Assessment of Dynamic Workload Capacity in the Word Superiority Effect

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The word superiority effect has lost some luster in the literature but has never been satisfactorily explained. Proposed models vary from facilitatory interactive parallel processing to positive feedback from higher centers, to even independent parallel channels. Issues such as this call for data and analyses that are able to assess central dynamic visual mechanisms. Accuracy-only experiments are incapable of providing such diagnostics. The vast majority of research on the word superiority effect has been based on accuracy and response time based effects have been elusive. In this work, we have developed a specialized task so that we may use the workload capacity coefficient, a particularly sensitive, response time based measure of processing efficiency. Using this measure, we have found clear evidence of dramatic word superiority effects hallmarked by super capacity, in the response time domain to complement the existing research based on accuracy. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that either parallel channels with positive collateral interactions or, alternatively, models possessing facilitatory-feedback are required—independent parallel models with no facilitatory interactions or feedback cannot reasonably predict our data.


Presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Seattle, WA.