Assessing the importance of letter pairs in initial, exterior, and interior positions in reading
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Exterior letter pairs (e.g., d--k in dark) play a major role in single-word recognition, but other research (D. Briihl & A. W. Inhoff, 1995) indicates no such role in reading text. This issue was examined by visually degrading letter pairs in three positions in words (initial, exterior, and interior) in text. Each degradation slowed reading rate compared with an undegraded control. However, whereas degrading initial and interior pairs slowed reading rate to a similar extent, degrading exterior pairs slowed reading rate most of all. Moreover, these effects were obtained when letter identities across pair positions varied naturally and when they were matched. The findings suggest that exterior letter pairs play a preferential role in reading, and candidates for this role are discussed.