Words & Constructions: Language complexity in linguistics and psychology
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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  • Exploring the mental lexicon: A methodological approach to understanding how printed words are represented in our minds

  • Author(s): Joana Acha 1  and Manuel Carreiras 2
  • View Affiliations Hide Affiliations
    1 University of the Basque Country, Donostia, Spain
    2 University of the Basque Country, Donostia, Spain; Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Donostia, Spain; IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Bilbao, Spain
  • Source: The Mental Lexicon, Volume 9, Issue 2, Jan 2014, p. 196 - 231
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/ml.9.2.03ach


Visual word recognition is a capital stage in reading. It involves accessing a mental representation of a written word, including processes such as perception, letter coding and selection of the proper candidate in our mental lexicon. One key issue for researchers on this field is to shed light on the role of phonological and orthographic processes in lexical access, as well as the choice of an input coding scheme for orthographic representations. In this paper we will review the state of the art about sublexical and lexical processes involved in lexical access. We will discuss behavioral, eye movement and electrophysiological evidence to understand: (i) which are the most important coding units, (ii) how our visual system codes identity and position of such units, (iii) which factors modulate the way we access lexical information in our minds, and (iv) the time course of such processes. We will do so from a methodological perspective, exploring a broad range of paradigms and effects that provide a complete framework about how printed words are coded and represented in our minds.


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