Effects of experience in a developmental model of reading


There is considerable evidence showing that age of acquisition (AoA) is an important factor influencing lexical processing. Early-learned words tend to be processed more quickly compared to later-learned words. The effect could be due to the gradual reduction in plasticity as more words are learned. Alternatively, it could originate from differences within semantic representations. We implemented the triangle model of reading including orthographic, phonological and semantic processing layers, and trained it according to experience of a language learner to explore the AoA effects in both naming and lexical decision. Regression analyses on the model’s performance showed that AoA was a reliable predictor of naming and lexical decision performance, and the effect size was larger for lexical decision than for naming. The modelling results demonstrate that AoA operates differentially on concrete and abstract words, indicating that both the mapping and the representation accounts of AoA were contributing to the model’s performance.

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