The majority of our research is devoted to examining factors that affect word recognition during silent reading in adults. We are particularly interested in uncovering how the meanings of words are represented in the mental lexicon and how experiences with word learning in childhood impact lexicon organization. There are a large number of word-level factors that affect fixation durations during reading. It is important to isolate these factors so that accurate models of eye movements in reading can be constructed.
Morphologically complex words, such as compound words, provide an effective way to study the organization of the mental lexicon. Some of our research addresses the question of how compound words are stored and processed during reading. For example:
Do compound words such as “farmhouse” have only a single lexical representation or are the decomposed into their constituent words (house and farm) during recognition?
What about for the compound “deadline”, which is opaque and has lost meaningful connection with its constituents (dead and line)?
Our research has contributed to evidence that both transparent and opaque compound words are decomposed during recognition, and that this lexical decomposition occurs at an early stage of processing.