Reading Learning Exercises

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This resource consists of two sets of review questions and a puzzle, and is designed to help students review and integrate the information presented in Psycholinguistics: Reading.


Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1. In the following image, which set of words would a logographic/visual cue reader be able to identify? Why?

Visual cue reading logo.jpg



2. Julio usually recognizes words based on major features such as the first and last letters. This leads to some success, but he often mixes up words similar in this way, such as "boat" and "brat." Recently, he has begun to join together all the sounds in a word in order to identify it. Explain the development that has occurred in Julio’s reading.


3. Persephone has been reading for longer than Julio, and gets frustrated with him when he cannot read longer words with affixes (such as "renewing," "information," or "premature"). Why is she a faster reader, especially on words such as these?


4. Neither Franklin nor Carmela know how to spell the word “telephone,” but they each gave it a try. Franklin wrote tellafown, while Carmela wrote talapoen. Assuming that these spellings are representative of each child’s abilities, who will likely perform better at reading in early elementary grades?


5. A reader with surface dyslexia cannot access semantic information about a word from its visual representation, but can still sound out words phonetically. Explain how surface dyslexia works using the dual-route cascade model of reading.


6. A person with damage to the frontal operculum is presented with two lists. Which would they be unable to read aloud, and why?

  • List 1: bloom, toast, runner
  • List 2: bloth, torm, roonel


Decide whether each statement is true or false, and explain why in either case:

7. If my child grows up learning to read Swedish, they will be at a disadvantage and perform poorly on reading accuracy in comparison to children from other cultures.


8. The main difference between the DRC and connectionist models of reading is that connectionism emphasizes innate, hard-wired organization of the reading process.


9. Connectionist systems “learn” how to produce correct phonological output.


10. When I read a book, my brain is constantly taking in visual information, whether I am actively moving my eyes or not.


11. If they fixated their gaze at the very beginning of this sentence, an English reader would be acquiring visual information from more of the sentence than would a Hebrew reader.


12. A Czech speaker would show more activation in the visual word form area (VWFA) to the list “dablko, půjda, jmenuji” than would an English speaker.

When you are ready, check the answers at the bottom of this page.

Think About It[edit | edit source]

  • How much do you remember about your own journey of learning to read? If possible, ask your parents or caregivers about how you progressed from early to mature reading, and how early you were able to identify words based on visual cues. What do you remember about the plot and characters of your favourite picture books? Does this differ from what you notice about the books now? How might your early reliance on picture cues have shaped your understanding of the text?
  • Next time you pick up a book, try this quick experiment: consciously prevent yourself from looking back over letters or words you have already read. How does eliminating the second-pass processing from visual regressions affect your comprehension? How do these effects differ depending on the complexity of the text (for example, when reading an explanation of string theory versus a familiar nursery rhyme)?
  • Do you believe that most adults use the reading strategies described by the 2002 study of Finnish readers? Which category of readers do you fall into? Do you think there are any factors that might cause shifts in your overall reading strategy?
  • Where are the main brain areas activated by visual linguistic input? Can you note the approximate location of these cortical areas using the landmarks of your own head?
  • An excellent way to discover how well you really understand concepts (and to develop your skills in communicating difficult scientific ideas) is to explain them to a layperson or non-science student. Try to explain connectionist and DRC models of reading to a friend, emphasizing the most important points and how the theories differ. Which aspects are the most difficult to explain? What analogies did you come up with to ease their understanding?


Crossword Puzzle[edit | edit source]

Reading review crossword.png

Reading crossword clues.png

Answers to Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1. A reader in the logographic stage would only be able to identify the word in the distinctive logo, since reading in this phase consists of word identification by familiar visual cues. The logographic reader would read the logo as the known company name without noticing the changed letter. They would be unlikely to recognize the same word in a different font and without the context of the logo, since the familiar visual cues are missing.


2. Julio was previously using phonetic-cue reading to identify words: using salient phonetic features for recognition, which can lead to confusion when different words have similar sounds at the beginning and end. He has now begun to use cipher reading, in which he is linking written letters with phonemes, and blending those sounds together to yield a whole, unique word.


3. Persephone benefits from more experience with reading: in this case, practice really does make perfect. A child with more reading practice can decipher words faster and more fluently. Persephone has also progressed to orthographic reading: she has learned to recognize common spelling patterns (such as "re-," "-ing," "-ation," and "pre-"), and can identify words by recognizing larger units of meaning, rather than sounding out one phoneme at a time.


4. Franklin will likely show better reading performance. His spelling was based on phonological features of the word, and he attempted to combine graphemes with known corresponding sounds in order to recreate the sound of the word “telephone.” This displays phonological awareness, a strong predictor of reading ability. Carmela, on the other hand, gave a spelling that was not phonologically accurate, and appears to be based more on the visual features of the word than its sounds. She may have more difficulty learning grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules later on.


5. In the context of the DRC model, surface dyslexia occurs when the lexical-semantic route is impaired and the reader must rely on the grapheme-phoneme correspondence route to recognize words. They can no longer directly link the visual image of a word to its meaning using orthographic cues, and must use the GPC route instead, linking each grapheme to a phoneme until the word becomes recognizable by its sound. This decreases reading speed and fluency.


6. They would be unable to read List 2, the list of pronounceable nonwords (or pseudowords). The frontal operculum is involved in phonological processing of words, and is most activated when a reader tries to decode pseudowords or low-frequency words with low grapheme-phoneme correspondence. A person with damage to this area would show phonological dyslexia, and since reading List 2 requires phonological processing, they would be unable to read it.


7. FALSE. Swedish is one of the most orthographically consistent languages in the Western world, giving its readers a significant advantage when learning grapheme-phoneme consistency rules. They perform better on nonword reading accuracy tasks than children from many other linguistic backgrounds, particularly English readers.


8. FALSE. That is the assertion of the DRC model, in fact. Connectionism takes a learning-based approach: nothing is hard-wired except the biological units themselves, and processing paths develop uniquely in each reader depending on how experience changes the weights on each connection between nodes in a pathway.


9. TRUE. The model begins with initially random weights on between-node conections, and the system produces output that is compared to the known ideal response. Weights are progressively modified after each output in order to generate correct responses. This is called “backpropagation.”


10.FALSE. During reading, I shift my gaze quickly from point to point in the text: the points where I stop are fixations, and the quick movements between fixations are saccades. My eyes move too quickly during a saccade to take in any visual information. All I would see is a blur, but my mind does not consciously process these blurs in the middle of comprehension, instead focusing on the information available during fixations.


11. TRUE. The perceptual span (the field of vision actively taking in information) spans about 14-15 letters to the right of the point of fixation (and 3-4 letters to the left) in readers of left-to-right languages such as English. However, it is reversed in readers of right-to-left languages (e.g. Hebrew).


12. TRUE. Visual word input, regardless of spatial location, triggers activity in the VWFA. This occurs with the presentation of both real words and legal nonwords. However, nonwords containing illegal letter combinations elicit less of a response, and this varies by language depending on phonotactic rules. In Czech, the letter combinations blk, jd, and jm are legal, whereas they are illegal in English. Thus, the English speaker would show diminished response to these nonwords in the VWFA.