The role of consonant/vowel organization in perceptual discrimination Fabienne Chetail ULB 2014 05

Chetail, F., Drabs, V. & Content, A. The role of consonant/vowel organization in perceptual discrimination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 2014 Apr 21. [Epub ahead of print], doi: 10.1037/a0036166.

According to a recent hypothesis, the CV pattern (i.e., the arrangement of consonant and vowel letters) constrains the mental representation of letter strings, with each vowel or vowel cluster being the core of a unit.
Six experiments with the same/different task were conducted to test whether this structure is extracted prelexically. In the mismatching trials, the targets were pseudowords built by the transposition of 2 adjacent letters from base words. In one condition, the pseudowords had the same number of vowel clusters as the base word, whereas in another condition, the transposition modified the number of vowel clusters (e.g., poirver: 2 vowel clusters vs. povirer: 3 vowel clusters, from POIVRER: 2 vowel clusters). In Experiment 1, pseudowords with a different number of vowel clusters were more quickly processed than pseudowords preserving the CV structure of their base word. Experiment 2 further showed that this effect was not due to changes in syllabic structure. In Experiment 3, the pattern of results was also replicated when the category (consonant or vowel) of the transposed letters was strictly equated between conditions. Experiments 4 and 5 confirmed that the effects were not attributable to lexical processing, to differences in letter identity, or to the position of transpositions. The results suggest that the orthographic representation of letter strings is influenced by the CV pattern at an early, prelexical processing stage.


Mechanisms of conscious and unconscious learning