Constraints on Computational Models of Basic Processes in Reading

Derek Besner*, Szymon Wartak, Serje Robidoux

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


There are numerous reports in the visual word recognition literature that the joint effects of various factors are additive on reaction time. A central claim by D. C. Plaut and J. R. Booth (2000, 2006) is that their parallel distributed processing model simulates additive effects of stimulus quality and word frequency in the context of lexical decision. If correct, this success would have important implications for computational accounts of reading processes. However, the results of further simulations with this model undermine this claim given that the joint effects of stimulus quality and word frequency yield a nonmonotonic function (underadditivity, additivity, and overadditivity) depending on the size of the stimulus quality effect, whereas skilled readers yield additivity more broadly. The implications of these results both locally and more globally are discussed, and a number of other issues are noted. Additivity of factor effects constitutes a benchmark that computational accounts should strive to meet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-250
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008



  • computer simulation
  • lexical decision
  • semantic priming
  • word frequency
  • word recognition

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