Deaf readers benefit from lexical feedback during orthographic processing
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Gutierrez-Sigut, E., Vergara-Martínez, M., & Perea, M. (2019). Deaf readers benefit from lexical feedback during orthographic processing. Scientific Reports, 9:12321. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48702-3.
It has been proposed that poor reading abilities in deaf readers might be related to weak connections between the orthographic and lexical-semantic levels of processing. Here we used event related potentials (ERPs), known for their excellent time resolution, to examine whether lexical feedback modulates early orthographic processing. Twenty congenitally deaf readers made lexical decisions to target words and pseudowords. Each of those target stimuli could be preceded by a briefly presented matched-case or mismatched-case identity prime (e.g., ALTAR-ALTAR vs. altar- ALTAR). Results showed an early effect of case overlap at the N/P150 for all targets. Critically, this effect disappeared for words but not for pseudowords, at the N250—an ERP component sensitive to orthographic processing. This dissociation in the effect of case for word and pseudowords targets provides strong evidence of early automatic lexical-semantic feedback modulating orthographic processing in deaf readers. Interestingly, despite the dissociation found in the ERP data, behavioural responses to words still benefited from the physical overlap between prime and target, particularly in less skilled readers and those with less experience with words. Overall, our results support the idea that skilled deaf readers have a stronger connection between the orthographic and the lexical-semantic levels of processing.