, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 345-356

The extraction of phrase structure during reading: Evidence from letter detection errors


In light of recent suggestions regarding the prominence of structure in speech production and comprehension, it has been postulated that structural processing might also play a similarly important role in reading. Some evidence in support of this contention can be gleaned from eye-movement research. However, more systematic support comes from recent work on letter detection during reading, which has shown that the rate of omission errors is inordinately high for morphemes that disclose phrase structure. The results of three lines of research suggest that, early in text processing, readers attempt to extract a structural frame for the sentence to help the on-line integration of accessed representations, and that structure-supporting units recede to the background as the meaning of the sentence evolves.