Both-edges representation of letter position in reading

Simon Fischer-Baum, Jonathan Charny, Michael McCloskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The representations that underlie our ability to read must encode not only the identities of the letters in a word, but also their relative positions. In recent years, many new proposals have been advanced concerning the representation of letter position in reading, but the available data do not distinguish among the competing proposals; multiple theories, each positing a different letter position representation scheme, are compatible with the evidence. In this article, we report two experiments that used the illusory word paradigm (e. g., Davis & Bowers, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 30: 923-941, 2004) to distinguish among alternative schemes for representing letter position in reading. The results support a scheme that uses both the beginning and the end of a word as anchoring points. This both-edges scheme has been implicated in letter position representation in spelling (Fischer-Baum, McCloskey, & Rapp, Cognition, 115: 466-490, 2010), as well as in position representation in verbal working memory (Henson, Memory & Cognition, 27: 915-927, 1999), suggesting that it may be a domain-general scheme for representing position in a sequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1089
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Letter migration errors
  • Letter position representation
  • Orthographic input coding
  • Reading
  • Visual word identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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