Project Title: Executive Planning Ability as a Predictor of Reading Skill

Collaborators: Regina Henry, Victor Kuperman

Previous research (Kuperman, Henry & VanDyke, in preparation; Kuperman, Ally, Van Dyke & Henry, in preparation) has demonstrated a link between reading skill and the ability to control eye and finger movements. The current research project investigates the link between the planning of sequential movements and reading. Specifically, we are exploring the possibility that a person’s ability to control the mental planning and updating of body movements is one of the underlying factors related to variations in reading skill.


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Collaborators: Kaitlin Falkauskas, Victor Kuperman

Compound words can occur in various orthographic formats (spaced, non-spaced or hyphenated), and some of these words may be more likely to occur in one format than other formats. For example thunderstorm is more likely to occur than thunder storm in written text. Previous research indicates that adding spaces to compound words facilitates the decomposition of the compound into its two parts, but hinders the integration of the separate meanings of the two words within the compound. The goal of the present study is to determine how a person's expectations (as dictated by a compound's frequency of occurrence in the different spacing formats) interact with the previously observed effects of compound spacing. The effects of individuals' level of reading experience on these processes will be considered. 


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Collaborators: Barbara Fenesi, Victor Kuperman

I am currently collaborating with Dr. Victor Kuperman on examining the negative impact of redundant on-screen text and narration in multimedia learning. We are using eye-tracking to determine whether the underlying negative effect of redundant on-screen text is because it interferes with "normal" reading-like behaviour (i.e., more regressive eye movements, more irrelevant visual search). This research provides novel insight into the mechanisms that drive reduced learning with redundant text, further discouraging its use in educational settings.


Project Title: Individual differences in the effects of semantic transparency on morphological processing

Collaborators: Daniel Schmidtke, Victor Kuperman

I am conducting eye-tracking experiments in order to quantify the presence and impact of individual deficits in the processing of meanings during complex word reading. An active debate within the literature concerns the role that the meanings of morphemes play in the recognition of complex words. One research project targets the significance of the processing cost that can be attributed to reading complex words possessing an opaque semantic relationship between a morpheme and the word in which it is nested (e.g. club in clubfoot). This project uses Latent Semantic Analysis to gauge the semantic similarity between complex words and their constituents. We predict that less proficient readers prefer a processing strategy of relying on compound segmentation into morphemes and using morphemic meanings as cues: unavailability of such cues, in opaque compounds, is the reason for the inefficiency of their reading behavior.


Another project aims to explore the effects of the emotional content of constituent morphemes and its role in the semantic processing of compound words. In this project, I am addressing the influence of the emotional dimension of valence (the pleasantness or discomfort associated with a word’s meaning) and its effects across the spectrum of reading skill. Again, we predict a differential effect modulated by reading skill, such that poorer readers focus their attention on the emotional weight of the constituent morphemes (wheel and chair in wheelchair) whereas better readers more efficiently process the valence of the whole word.


Project Title: The semantics of noun countability in world Englishes

Collaborators: Daniel Schmidtke, Victor Kuperman

This research uses a corpus of global Internet English to explore the variation in the pluralisation of mass nouns (e.g. luggages, violences, and advices) across varieties of English. The countable use of mass nouns is a lexico-grammatical phenomenon that is hailed as a discernible proxy of the dividing line between native (e.g., Canadian, British, U.S.) and non-native (Ghanian, Sri Lankan, Philippine) varieties of English. In this research we aim to probe the extent of ‘mass noun’ countability in non-native varieties of English and explore the potential semantic motivations behind this phenomenon.