Ortho-semantic learning of novel words in Grade 3 students: An ERP study
Alena Galilee1, Lisa Beck1, Catherine Mimeau2, S. Hélène Deacon1, Aaron J Newman1; 1Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada, 2Université Laval, Quebec City, G1V 0A6, Quebec, Canada
Knowledge of spelling patterns and word meanings — ortho-semantic knowledge — is one factor explaining individual differences in children’s reading abilities. At the same time, questions have arisen as to whether children’s capacities in acquiring new ortho-semantic knowledge might be more important than existing knowledge (Deacon et al., 2012). The main objective of the present study was to examine how event-related potentials (ERP) change with ortho-semantic learning. Thirteen native English speaking students in Grade 3 completed a learning task in which they learned novel word spellings and meanings by reading short stories. Immediately after learning, participants completed a lexical decision task in which they were presented with real words, novel words from the stories, non-words, consonant strings, and false fonts. Two ERP components were investigated: the N170 (word recognition) and the N400 (lexical semantics). For the N170, false fonts were significantly different from the other four conditions, showing evidence for print tuning. For the N400, differences between real words and false fonts, as well as novel words and false fonts were found, while differences between other conditions were not significant. These results suggest that even after very brief exposure, the ortho-semantically novel words were processed similarly to familiar, real words. Additional analyses will examine relationships between individual differences in word reading, ortho-semantic learning, and the ERPs.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging