Children's and adults' use of spelling-sound information in three reading tasks

Gloria S. Waters, Mark S. Seidenberg, Margaret Bruck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


This research examined the effects of irregular spelling and irregular spelling-sound correspondences on word recognition in children and adults. Previous research has established that, among skilled readers, these irregularities influence the reading of only lower frequency words. However, this research involved the lexical decision and naming tasks, which differ from the demands of normal reading in important ways. In the present experiments, we compared performance on these tasks with that on a task requiring words to be recognized in sentence contexts. Results indicated that adults showed effects of spelling and spelling-sound irregularities in reading lower frequency words on all three tasks, whereas younger and poorer readers also showed effects on higher frequency words. The fact that irregular spelling-sound correspondences affected performance on the sentence task indicates that access of phonological information is not an artifact of having to read a word aloud or perform a lexical decision. Two other developmental trends were observed: As children became more skilled in reading, the effects of irregular spelling were overcome before the effects of irregular spelling-sound correspondences; the latter effects were eliminated on silent reading tasks earlier than on the naming task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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