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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Learning to read is arguably the most important aspect of a child’s schooling, and provides the key means to obtaining new knowledge into adulthood. Yet, unlike human capacity for spoken language, reading is not a universal part of human experience. Instead, reading is a relatively recent cultural invention, acquired only through years of instruction and practice. Understanding the functional mechanisms that underpin this astonishing form of expertise is a central aim of modern psycholinguistics, and has been a question of interest since the beginnings of psychology as a scientific discipline. This chapter considers how we identify a printed letter string as a unique word and compute its meaning, focusing in particular on evidence gathered from the analysis of behavior. It identifies the most important emerging questions and describes areas in which neuroscience methods may make a substantive contribution.

Keywords: orthographic representation, lexical experience, competition, masked priming, lexical similarity

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