Morphological Parsing by Foveal Split: Evidence from Anaglyphs

AbstractWe investigated the early moments of visual word recognition, when the retinal information—by hypothesis split vertically along the fovea—is divided into two visual pathways, projecting the right visual field into the left hemisphere (LH), and the left visual field into the right hemisphere (RH). Wearing red/blue anaglyph glasses, participants performed a lexical decision task to compounds (FOOTBALL) and monomorphemic words that were either pseudo-compounds (CARPET) or unsegmentable (JINGLE). The stimuli were presented (masked, 60 ms exposure) in three color combinations: all black, red/blue (ipsilateral visual pathways), and blue/red (contralateral pathways). For the red/blue and blue/red conditions, the colors were split either at the morpheme boundary (legal split) or at a character to the left or to the right of the split (illegal split). We found an advantage (RT and accuracy) of compounds over non-compounds, independent of pathway, and an advantage of legal vs. illegal constituent split. Results suggest that the visual word recognition system performs parsing analyses that are in consonant with the morphological objects of the language. The advantage of pseudo-compounds over unsegmentables suggests that at an early—pre-lexical—stage the system is partially insensitive to the semantic properties of the whole word.

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