Parts, wholes and context in reading: A triple dissociation

Denis G. Pelli, Katharine A. Tillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research in object recognition has tried to distinguish holistic recognition from recognition by parts. One can also guess an object from its context. Words are objects, and how we recognize them is the core question of reading research. Do fast readers rely most on letter-by-letter decoding (i.e., recognition by parts), whole word shape, or sentence context? We manipulated the text to selectively knock out each source of information while sparing the others. Surprisingly, the effects of the knockouts on reading rate reveal a triple dissociation. Each reading process always contributes the same number of words per minute, regardless of whether the other processes are operating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere680
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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