In two experiments, the relative contribution of consonants and vowels in word identification in English was assessed in a paradigm in which the onset of one or two letters was delayed at the beginning of a fixation in reading. In both experiments, delaying the onset of a consonant for 30 ms at the beginning of an eye fixation increased the gaze duration on the target word more than delaying the onset of a vowel did. With 60-ms delays, delaying letter onset was equally disruptive for consonants and vowels. The results suggest that there is a temporal distinction between the contribution of consonants and vowels during the reading of English: consonants play a more important role than vowels at the early stage of word identification.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research reported here formed part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Massachusetts. The work was supported by Grant HD26765 from the National Institute of Health; the second author was supported by a Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH01255). We thank the other members of the dissertation committee, Chuck Clifton, Marvin Daehler, Susan Duffy, and Don Fisher, for their helpful suggestions. We also thank Iris Berent, Guy Van Orden, and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Finally, we thank Brett Miller and Elizabeth Niswander for their help in preparing the experimental sentences for this study.
- Word identification