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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2009 Dec;35(6):1969-75. doi: 10.1037/a0016894.

Word misperception, the neighbor frequency effect, and the role of sentence context: evidence from eye movements.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


An eye movement experiment was conducted to investigate whether the processing of a word can be affected by its higher frequency neighbor (HFN). Target words with an HFN (birch) or without one (spruce) were embedded into 2 types of sentence frames: 1 in which the HFN (birth) could fit given the prior sentence context, and 1 in which it could not. The results suggest that words can be misperceived as their HFN, and that top-down information from sentence context strongly modulates this effect. Implications for models of word recognition and eye movements during reading are discussed.

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