[PS-2.12] Orthographic processing in deaf readers: the role of lexical feedback in abstract letter encoding

Gutierrez-Sigut, E. 1, 2 , Vergara-Martinez, M. 1 & Perea, M. 1

1 University of Valencia
2 University College London

Most deaf people find reading very difficult. Here we used ERPs to investigate whether this was partly due to weaker lexical feedback during orthographic encoding. A group of 20 congenitally deaf readers made lexical decisions to five-letter Spanish word and nonword targets. The target stimuli were presented in uppercase and preceded by: a) a matched-case identity prime (ALTAR-ALTAR); b) a mismatched-case identity prime (altar-ALTAR); or c) an unrelated prime.

Behavioral results replicated the pattern reported by Perea et al. (2016) with deaf readers: we found an advantage for matched-case over the mismatched-case condition for both word and nonword targets. Interestingly, the ERP results showed a similar pattern to that of Vergara-Martínez et al. (2015) with hearing individuals. Specifically, we found a main effect of case N/P150, which dissipated for words (but not for nonwords) in later time windows (N250 and N400). In addition, the effect of case in response times for words (but not for nonwords) was positively correlated with reading ability and phonological skills, as well as with word knowledge. These findings suggest that processing of orthographic features during word processing may follow a different pattern in deaf readers than in hearing readers.