The Impact of Word Frequency on Peripheral Processes during Handwriting: A Matter of Age

Olivia Afonso, Paz Suárez-Coalla, Nagore González-Martín, Fernando Cuetos
2017 Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology  
2 Although several studies have found that the sublexical route of spelling has an effect 3 on handwriting movements, the ability of lexical variables to modulate peripheral processes 4 during writing is less clear. This study addresses the hypothesis that word frequency affects 5 writing durations only during writing acquisition, and that at some point of development, the 6 handwriting system becomes a relatively autonomous system unaffected by lexical variables. 7 Spanish children attending
more » ... hildren attending Grade 2, 4, and 6 performed a spelling-to-dictation and a copy 8 task in which word frequency was manipulated. Results revealed that written latencies 9 decreased with age, especially between Grade 2 and 4 and also that writing durations 10 decreased between these two groups. All these measures were longer during copying but the 11 effect of task on written latencies and in-air pen trajectories was smaller for older children. 12 Crucially, a significant word frequency effect on writing durations was observed only in 13 Grade 2. This effect was marginally significant in Grade 4 and disappeared in Grade 6. 14 However, all groups showed a similar effect of word frequency on written latencies. These 15 findings suggest that lexical processes impact peripheral processes during writing acquisition 16 and that this influence diminishes to eventually disappear at some point in development, 17 presumably when the handwriting system becomes an autonomous system. 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 LEXICAL EFFECTS ON WRITING DURATIONS 3 1 Handwriting is a complex skill that involves motor, perceptual and linguistic 2 processes. However, little is yet known about how these processes interact with each other 3 and how this relationship changes throughout development. Both learning to spell and 4 handwriting impose great cognitive demands, but through constant practice during years of 5 training handwriting becomes largely automatized and the spelling of a considerable number 6 of words is learned. Although recent studies suggest that central processes (spelling) impact 7 peripheral processes (handwriting), findings have been unclear about which linguistic 8 variables may affect hand movements during writing production. Specifically, effects of word 9 frequency have not been consistently observed, leading some authors to claim that lexical 10
doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1275713 pmid:28054498 fatcat:elb7752hs5fgffrropovbfd7la