Reading in alphabetic writing systems: evidence from cognitive neuroscience

Jane Ashby and Keith Rayner

in Neuroscience in Education

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600496
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739187 | DOI:
Reading in alphabetic writing systems: evidence from cognitive neuroscience

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This chapter discusses the behavioural, neurophysiological, and computational evidence relevant for understanding reading. Because readers must recognize printed words in order to comprehend a passage, it focuses on research that illuminates how word recognition happens. The first section of this chapter describes research on how skilled word recognition occurs. It discusses evidence that phonology has a strong influence on parafoveal word processing, and that phonological processes facilitate word recognition in the first tenth of a second of seeing a word. The second section discusses early reading development (in five- to eight-year-olds), beginning with the technology of alphabetic writing systems, which is based on the mapping of speech sounds to letters. Before learning this alphabetic principle, children guess at printed words. As alphabetic awareness improves, children begin attending to the letters and mapping them onto speech sounds to independently read unfamiliar words. After several accurate readings of a new word, a child can usually recognize it quickly. These phases of learning to read track the development of reading circuits in the brain.

Keywords: reading development; printed words; word recognition; phonology; parafoveal word processing; alphabet writing

Chapter.  13679 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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