Reading Aloud: Qualitative Differences in the Relation between Stimulus Quality and Word Frequency as a Function of Context
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Virtually all theories of visual word recognition assume (typically implicitly) that when a pathway is used, processing within that pathway always unfolds in the same way. This view is challenged by the observation that simple variations in list composition are associated with qualitative changes in performance. The present experiments demonstrate that when reading aloud, the joint effects of stimulus quality and word frequency on RT are driven by the presence/absence of nonwords in the list. Interacting effects of these factors are seen when only words appear in the experiment whereas additive effects are seen when words and nonwords are randomly intermixed. One way to explain these and other data appeals to the distinction between cascaded processing (or interactive-activation) on the one hand versus a thresholded mode of processing on the other, with contextual factors determining which mode of processing dominates.