The effects of age, phonological coding, and letter position on visual tasks



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When 144 Ss, ranging in school grades from 2 through 12, were asked to scan texts for existing and omitted 'e's,' then: (a) Ss, except those in grade 4, scanned for the acoustic image as well as the visual stimulus, for an existing 'e' in a word; (b) Ss in grades 4 and 12, in the omitted 'e' detection task, scanned for the acoustic image as well as the visual stimulus in a word, while Ss in other grades did not; (c) across grades the beginning of a word was scanned more carefully for existing letters than was the end of a word; (d) Ss scanned the end of a word more carefully for omitted letters than the middle of a word; (e) except for grade 2 Ss, a greater proportion of omitted 'e's' in 'the' were missed than omitted other terminal pronounced 'e's'; and (f) Ss in grades 10 and 12 scanned the ends of words more poorly for existing than missing letters. Finally, missed silent omitted medial position 'e's' and performance on the spelling portion of the Wide Range Achievement Test were the only useful predictors of performance on a clerical speed and accuracy test. The relevance of these findings to the proposal that the visual process is much more isolated from the phonological process in young children than in adults, as discussed. Research suggesting that when confronted with a visual task, Ss make no attempt to process acoustically, was discussed. Research was also discussed which suggested that acoustic scanning in visual tasks of omitted 'e' detection is a 'phenomenon of some generality.' Research suggesting that 'the' is a highly redundant word which is taken for granted and thus not scanned was also discussed. Variables affecting acoustic coding in visual tasks were examined.



Reading, Psychology of, Visual perception--Testing, Children--Language