Tracking the acquisition of orthographic skills in developing readers: masked priming effects

Anne Castles*, Chris Davis, Pauline Cavalot, Kenneth Forster

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    131 Citations (Scopus)


    A masked priming procedure was used to explore developmental changes in the tuning of lexical word recognition processes. Lexical tuning was assessed by examining the degree of masked form priming and used two different types of prime-target lexical similarity: one letter different (e.g., rlay → PLAY) and transposed letters (e.g., lpay → PLAY). The performance of skilled adult readers was compared with that of developing readers in Grade 3. The same children were then tested again two years later, when they were in Grade 5. The skilled adult readers showed no form priming, indicating that their recognition mechanisms for these items had become finely tuned. In contrast, the Grade 3 readers showed substantial form priming effects for both measures of lexical similarity. When retested in Grade 5, the developing readers no longer showed significant one letter different priming, but transposed letter priming remained. In general, these results provide evidence for a transition from more broadly tuned to more finely tuned lexical recognition mechanisms and are interpreted in the context of models of word recognition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)165-182
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


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