Reading- Advances in Cognitive Psychology

Reading is a challenging cognitive task that differs from understanding spoken language in several respect. Reading involves perception, language, memory, thinking, and intelligence (Adams, 1990,1999; Garrod & Daneman, 2003; Smith, 2004). For ex. Reader can control the rate of input and they can re scan the text.

Working memory helps readers decoding ambiguous sentences. Goal of reading is to translate the visual information i.e. letters/words/sentences on the page into semantic information about the meaning of words.

The eyes makes saccadic movements during reading . the perceptual span during fixation includes roughly four letters to the left of the center and eight letters on right. Average adult reads prose at about 250-300 words per minute.


Perceptual process of reading.

  • Eyes makes Saccadic movements i.e. rapid movements of eyes from one spot to the next. To bring spot at the center of the retina, where vision is sharpest.
  • Fixation-visual system acquires the useful information for reading (Blankchard, 1987).
  • Methods for assessing perceptual process in READING
  • Gaze Contingent Paradigm-  alternating letter displayed on cathode ray . Ex. ‘..rmot lif…..’  concluded our perceptual span ( region seen during the pause between saccadic movements) during fixation includes roughly 4 letters to the left of the center and 8 letters on right from center.
  • Research– have saccadic eye movements several predictable patterns —-
  • Eye usually jumps past word ‘the’  and predictable words/sentences (O’Regan, 1979).
  • Size of saccadic movements is small  if the next word / sentence is misplaced or if it is long word(McConkie & Zola 1984).
  • The Good Reader makes larger jumps and is also less likely to move backward , shorter pause   1/5th second.

Theories of Word Recognition: Reading.

There are 3 main theories /hypothesis /method  to explain how reader recognize printed words.

1. The Direct Access Hypothesis-

Reader can recognize word directly from printed letters without sound. 

By looking word ‘recognition’ and the visual pattern is sufficient to let you locate information about the meaning of the word in semantic memory.


  1. Homonyms like ‘their’ & ‘there’, if we translate these word in sound those will be same.
  2. Bradshaw & nettleton,1974-similar spelling but not sound Ex. horse- worse ,quart-part .Results –silent reading dose not lead to a silent pronunciation of the word .
  3. Clinical observation of DEEP DYSLEXIA (unable to translate printed words into sound) they were able to see the word and identify its meaning(Bense,r1981).

2. The Indirect Access Hypothesis-

  • Indirect –need intermediate step i.e. sound.
  • Also named phonologically mediating hypothesis.
  • There is an obligatory translation from ink marks on pages to some form of  speech code in order to gain  access  to store of word meaning during reading(Benser,1981).


  1. We read aloud when face difficult word.
  2. Word sound is important  when children begin to learn (wanger & Torgesen, 1987).
  3. Children likely to judge sentences as meaningful if they sounded meaningful . Ex. ‘’He run threw the street’’ and ‘’He run through the street.’’(Doctor & Coltheart, 1980).

3. Dual Code Hypothesis-

  • At present this hypothesis seems most appropriate approach.
  • Characteristics of the reader determine whether access is indirect or indirect.


  1. Implications for teaching reading
  2. Direct hypothesis supporter suggest use of Whole word approach connect word with meaning (Rayner, 2001).and identify words in context.
  3. Whereas, Indirect hypothesis supporter suggest use of the phonics approach-try to pronounce the individual letters of word. They will be better speller because of phonics training (Pressley,1996).

Whole language approach suggest reading instruction should emphasize meaning ,children should read story books ,experiments with writing before they are expert speller, try to guess the meaning in context(Rayner,2001).

Reading and Comprehension.

  • 1932 Bartllet –’’now we need to consider larger conceptual units in reading ,beyond the level of sentence.’’
  • We know the importance of context in understanding word . Herein reading it is more difficult , still important (Sharkey & Sharkey,1987).
  • Moreover, at all levels of reading comprehension, there is a interaction between the process of physical stimuli(bottom up processing ) and the context provided by expectations and previous knowledge (top down process).
  • Two important Components of reading comprehension
  • Specific Background Knowledge – the more you know about a topic the easier it is to learn even more. Spilich,1979. However, reports on Base Ball shows qualitative differences in recall.
  • Forming a Coherent Representation of the text- it is more complex than simply fitting words and phases together. However, reader must gather information together ,making the massage both cohesive & stable. Meyer,1980 research on students on recall.. found that 3/4th students who scored high on reading  comprehension test use used same structure 
  •  Moreover, reading comprehension tends to be associated with understanding the organization text passage.
    • People often make inferences that go beyond the information supplied by the writer.
    • Info. Of world to present passage .
    • Drawing Inferences is useful heuristics .
    • It also produce errors.
    • Factors encourages Inferences in Reading-
  1. Scripts = theses are simple well structured sequence of events , such as going to café.
    • Sharkey & Mitchell,1985-script of birthday party was given then different words shown to respondents and asked quickly where these words are English or not ? Findings were judgments were significantly faster when word related to birthday party.
  2. Text
  3. Our own preferences(only reading about ‘Karna’).

Meta- Comprehension.

  • It refers to our thoughts about reading comprehension like meta cognition.
  • However, Meta-comprehension involves accurately assessing whether or not you understand a written passage.
  • It also involves regulating your reading ,so that you know how to read more effectively.

 Improving meta comprehension

  • Effective way to improve Meta-comprehension is to take a pre test ,which can supply feedback about comprehension before taking actual exam (Glenberg 1987).


Galloti, K. M. (2004). Cognitive psychology in and out of the laboratory. USA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Matlin, M. (1994). Cognition. Bangalore: Harcourt Brace Pub.

Anderson, J. R. (2015). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York: Worth Publishers

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