Morphemes as letter chunks: A developmental perspective


ESCOP2022 - 22nd conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, Lille Grand Palais France 29 August - 1 September 2022


August, 2022


Maria Ktori, Jarosław R. Lelonkiewicz and Davide Crepaldi

Morphemes are chunks of frequently co-occurring letters with semantic and syntactic properties. Using an artificial script, the present study examined the role of visual statistical learning in the way developing readers learn to recognize morphemes and code for their typical position within words. Ninety-three children (Grades 2-4) were familiarized with a lexicon of pseudo-letter strings, each composed of a random character sequence and an affix-like chunk of frequently co-occurring characters. In a separate test phase, children were more likely to attribute a previously unseen string to the novel lexicon if it contained an affix. However, children showed no sensitivity to the within-string affix position. Interestingly, this results pattern was not reliably modulated by school grade or explicit morphological knowledge. These findings suggest that morpheme identification during visual word processing can be, at least partly, ascribed to a language-agnostic mechanism that enables the implicit extraction of statistical regularities from the linguistic input.