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Deyue Yu; Improving reading speed in the periphery: training on words vs. letters. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):5172. doi: https://doi.org/.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Training on reading words across multiple exposure durations has been shown to be more effective than training on recognizing letters at a fixed exposure duration in improving peripheral reading speed. It is unclear what is the basis for the more effective training using reading task. The goal of this study is to investigate whether words are superior to letters as training stimuli in improving reading speed when exposure duration is fixed throughout the training.
Seventeen normally-sighted young adults were randomly assigned to three groups: a no-training control group, letter training group, and word training group. For the two training groups, we adopted a non-task-based training procedure utilizing stimulus exposure and identity priming (prior knowledge of stimulus identity). Letter training group viewed strings of three letters. Word training group viewed words with length ranging between 1 and 14 letters. Exposure duration of 106ms was used. Pre- and post-tests consisted of measurements of visual-span sizes and reading speeds using the rapid serial visual presentation method at 10° above and below fixation. Training occurred at 10° below fixation and last for five sessions (1430 trials/session).
We found no difference in the improvement of reading speed between training on words (87% in lower and 67% in upper field) and training on letters (62% in lower and 94% in upper field). For visual-span size, only the letter training group had improvement (p < 0.0005). Word training did not enlarge visual span. It is possible that word training only triggers learning on better utilizing supra-letter information such as word shape. Although word shape typically plays a minor role in reading in comparison with letter recognition, word training may enable word-level information to be more reliable and to better compensate for the degraded letter-level information. We also found that learning transferred from the trained (lower) to the untrained (upper) visual field.
As training stimuli, words are not superior to letters in improving peripheral reading speed. Learning may happen on different levels of information processing for these two types of stimuli. Training may be more effective if we combine letter and word trainings.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.
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