[PS-1.81] The impact of literacy on character processing

Malik-Moraleda, S. 1 , Orihuela, K. 2 , Carreiras, M. 1, 3 & Duñaibeitia, J. A. 1

1 BCBL, Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language; Donostia, Spain
2 Université de Toulouse II; Toulouse, France
3 Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science; Bilbao, Spain

Word processing initially occurs through letter-by-letter parsing at early stages of reading development. Here we investigate the role of literacy in parsing both linguistic and non-linguistic strings, as well as the consequences of the possible changes brought by the acquisition of reading. Illiterates matched with literates on socio-demographic and cognitive measures were presented with a character search task. While both groups performed poorly parsing the elements constituting non-linguistic strings, the literates performed better than illiterates in identifying constituents in linguistic strings. Illiterates showed a similar performance for both non-linguistic and linguistic strings. The implication of the present pattern of results is three-fold: (1) they support domain-specific models of orthographic processing; (2) they suggest that visual word recognition is not fully parallel to visual object recognition and, (3) most importantly, they demonstrate the direct impact of literacy on the ability of breaking down a word into its constituents.