Letter Migration in Word Perception.
CALIFORNIA UNIV SAN DIEGO LA JOLLA CENTER FOR HUMAN INFORMATION PROCESSING
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These experiments demonstrate that the perception of two distinct words in a briefly presented display can interact, causing perceptual migrations of letters from one word to the other. For example, when LINE and LACE are presented, subjects might report seeing LICE or LANE instead of LINE. Several properties of the letter migrations were revealed Migrations are more frequent when the words are separated by smaller physical distances a majority of the migrations are a result of letters being copied from one word to the other, not from the interchange of letters of the two words migrations to a word are less frequent when subjects focus attention on that word and migrations are far more frequent when the words share letters in common. This last result suggests that migrations are not caused by a loss of spatial information at the letter level, that is, by free-floating letters being wrongly combined. Rather, migrations occur because of structural limitations at a high level of the word-recognition process, perhaps during lexical activation. Implications for models of multiple-word perception are discussed. Author