Skilled readers can recognize words at lightning fast speed when they read because the word has been placed in a visual dictionary of sorts, say Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) neuroscientists.
The visual dictionary idea rebuts the theory that our brain "sounds out" words each time we see them.
"One camp of neuroscientists believes that we access both the phonology and the visual perception of a word as we read them and that the area or areas of the brain that do one, also do the other, but our study proves this isn't the case," says the study's lead investigator,
"What we found is that once we've learned a word, it is placed in a purely visual dictionary in the brain. Having a purely visual representation allows for the fast and efficient word recognition we see in skilled readers," she says. "This study is the first demonstration of that concept."