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The Cognitive Chronometric Architecture of Word and Picture Naming: Evidence from Onset Response and Duration



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Reading is a fundamental skill for functioning in today’s society. Given the breadth of activities that require reading, it is important to develop a comprehensive model of basic reading processes. Furthermore, considering that many pictures co-appear with words in everyday life, it is imperative to understand the nature of picture identification processes, as well as how they interact with reading processes. As such, the present thesis focuses on developing a model of reading and extending it to include picture processing. In the present research, experiments on word identification (Experiments 1 and 2) examined onset reaction time (RT) in a word naming task using an additive factors method. The pattern of additive and overadditive joint effects on naming RT among Instructions (INST: name all, name words), Word Frequency (WF: log10HAL), Semantic Neighbourhood Density (SND: Inverse Ncount), and Word Type (WT: regular, exception) supported a cognitive chronometric architecture consisting of at least two cascaded stages of processing, with the orthographic lexical system as the locus of the INST x WF and the INST x SND interactions, and the phonological output system as the locus of the WF x WT and the SND x WT interactions. Additivity between INST and WT supports the notion that these variables affect separable systems, and a WF x SND interaction supports a common locus of their effects. These results support a dual-route cascaded model over parallel processing models of basic reading. We also examined response duration (RD) in these data by recording and hand-marking vocal responses, which provides evidence that reading processes are ongoing even after the initiation of a vocal response, and supports the notion that the more lexically a word is read, the shorter the RD. As such, the effects of WT and INST on RD were opposite to their effects on RT. Given the dissociating effects between RT and RD, these results provide new challenges to all models of basic reading processes. Experiments on picture and word identification (Experiments 3 and 4) involved localizing common systems and connections between these processes, and served to extend the dual-route model of reading. These experiments examined naming RT and RD for exception and regular words, and their corresponding pictures. The pattern of joint effects on RT among Format (pictures, words), Picture-Orthography Agreement, WF, and WT (regular, exception) supported a triple-route cascaded model. The results suggest the orthographic lexical system is accessed for both picture and word naming, and demonstrated a dissociation between regular and exception words on RT versus RD, whereas pictures consistently yielded an exception item advantage for both measures. Experiment 4 examined Arabic digits and their corresponding number words, and found that Arabic digits produce shorter RDs than number words. In general, the results suggest that the picture and word identification systems are strongly coupled between the picture memory system and the orthographic lexical system, particularly for items that rely on “whole-word” lexical representations. We argue that RD provides a wider window for exploring cognition, and a converging measure of lexical processing, which must be considered when studying basic identification processes of any stimulus type. The development of a comprehensive model of basic reading processes will help identify behavioural markers of normal reading processes, and will serve to advance research on basic word recognition. In addition, given that a broad definition of ‘literacy’ should include picture processing, the development of a model that includes picture processing will serve to advance research on how reading and picture processing interact with each other, which may be critical for individuals with low literacy skills.



Reading, Word naming, Picture naming, Additive Factors Method, response onset, response duration



Master of Arts (M.A.)




Behavioural Science


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