UC Merced Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society Title Individual differences in visual comprehension of morphological complexity Publication Date Individual differences in visual comprehension of morphological complexity

Victor Kuperman, Julie Dyke, Victor Kuperman, Julie Dyke
This paper explores variability in individual strategies of processing morphologically complex words. We examined the eye-movement record that 71 readers showed during reading of suffixed words (truck+er): the readers also took part in a battery of 17 skill tests, which allowed for a fine-grained characterization of their verbal abilities. Statistical analyses revealed that an individual's ability to segment words as well as his or her level of reading comprehension shifted the balance between
more » ... he balance between recognition of a complex word as a whole and its recognition via decomposed morphemes. Effects of whole-word frequency and base morpheme frequency were observed in both good and poor readers, yet their qualitative nature varied by skill. Good readers suffered from lexical competition between whole words (trucker) and base morphemes (truck), while poor readers received a recognition boost from base words. We discuss these interactive patterns in the context of computational models of morphological processing and argue that readers strategically adjust weights of different sources of morphological information, depending on the quality of the lexical representation for both the complex words and their morphemes.