Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 571–595 | Cite as

Orthographic onsets as functional units of adult word recognition

  • Judith A. Bowey


Five experiments are described. Experiments 1 to 3 used a case-change methodology to test the hypothesis that orthographic onsets serve as units of visual word recognition. It was assumed that presenting words in mixed case would disrupt processing more strongly when the case change occurred within a subunit of word recognition than when the case change occurred between subunits of word recognition. The orthographic onset hypothesis was supported in two of three experiments. The sensitivity of the case-change methodology as a means of testing the orthographic onset hypothesis was examined in two further experiments using case change to disrupt orthographic rimes. Again, mixed results were observed. Given the abundance of evidence that, for skilled readers, ortho-graphic rimes serve as functional units of print and independent arguments that the case-change methodology represents an inherently conservative test of hypotheses concerning multiletter units of print, the current results provide preliminary evidence for the ortho-graphic onset as a functional unit of print.


Cognitive Psychology Current Result Word Recognition Mixed Result Functional Unit 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith A. Bowey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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