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Masked priming and ERPs dissociate maturation of orthographic and semantic components of visual word recognition in children

Authors

  • Marianna D. Eddy,

    Corresponding author
    1. McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Address correspondence to: Marianna Eddy, 490 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155, USA. E-mail: marianna.eddy@tufts.edu

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  • Jonathan Grainger,

    1. Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, Aix-Marseille University and Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Marseille, France
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  • Phillip J. Holcomb,

    1. Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
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  • Priya Mitra,

    1. Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA
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  • John D. E. Gabrieli

    1. McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    3. Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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  • This research was funded by the Ellison Medical Foundation. MDE was funded by F32HD061180, PJH and PM were funded by HD25889, and JG was funded by ERC (European Research Council) advanced grant 230313. We thank the families who took part in this study. MDE is now at the United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center and Tufts University.

Abstract

This study examined the time-course of reading single words in children and adults using masked repetition priming and the recording of event-related potentials. The N250 and N400 repetition priming effects were used to characterize form- and meaning-level processing, respectively. Children had larger amplitude N250 effects than adults for both shorter and longer duration primes. Children did not differ from adults on the N400 effect. The difference on the N250 suggests that automaticity for form processing is still maturing in children relative to adults, while the lack of differentiation on the N400 effect suggests that meaning processing is relatively mature by late childhood. The overall similarity in the children's repetition priming effects to adults' effects is in line with theories of reading acquisition, according to which children rapidly transition to an orthographic strategy for fast access to semantic information from print.

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