Tests of a model of multi-word reading: Effects of parafoveal flanking letters on foveal word recognition

Jonathan Grainger*, Sebastiaan Mathot, Francoise Vitu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


We used the "flanking letters lexical decision" paradigm of Dare and Shillcock (2013) in order to test a model of multi-word reading. In the model, multiple words (on fixation, and to the left and right of fixation) are processed in parallel by a bank of location-specific letter detectors. These letter detectors feed information forward to a "bag of bigrams" that represents location-invariant sublexical orthographic information for all words processed in parallel. Bigrams are only formed within words (i.e., between spaces) but activate all compatible word representations. The model accounts for a finding reported by Dare and Shillcock (2013): Word recognition is facilitated when flanking letter pairs are present in the target (e.g. RO ROCK CK) compared with different letter flankers (ST ROCK EN), but independently of the position of the flanking bigrams (e.g., CK ROCK RO). In the present study we replicate this key finding and show that, as predicted by the model, although bigram position does not matter, within-bigram letter position does. Word recognition is harder when the position of letters within bigram flankers is reversed (e.g., OR ROCK KC/KC ROCK OR), but these conditions still facilitate with respect to a different letter flanker condition. (C), 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychologica
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Multi-word reading
  • Orthographic processing
  • Flanking letters
  • Lexical decision

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