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date: 05 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Theories of visual word recognition and reading have been based on averaged data from relatively small samples of skilled readers, reflecting an implicit assumption that all skilled readers read in the same way. This chapter reviews evidence of systematic individual differences in the early stages of lexical retrieval among samples of above-average readers that challenges this assumption. Individual differences in patterns of masked priming and parafoveal processing during sentence reading provide evidence of variability in the precision and coherence of lexical knowledge that are consistent with Perfetti’s (2007) construct of lexical quality. This evidence is compatible with neuroimaging evidence that literacy drives the development of specialized neural systems for processing written words. Understanding these dimensions of individual differences among expert readers has important implications for future refinements of theories of visual word recognition and reading.

Keywords: orthographic processing, lexical quality, individual differences, masked priming, reading skill

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