Brault Foisy, L.-M., Ahr, E., Masson, S., Houdé, O., & Borst, G. (2017). Is inhibitory control involved in discriminating pseudowords that contain the reversible letters b and d? Journal of experimental child psychology, 162, 259-267. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2017.05.011
ABSTRACT: Children tend to confuse reversible letters such as b and d when they start learning to read. According to some authors, mirror errors are a consequence of the mirror generalization (MG) process that allows one to recognize objects independently of their left– right orientation. Although MG is advantageous for the visual recognition of objects, it is detrimental for the visual recognition of reversible letters. Previous studies comparing novice and expert readers demonstrated that MG must be inhibited to discriminate reversible single letters. In this study, we investigated whether MG must also be inhibited by novice readers to discriminate between two pseudowords containing reversible letters. Readable pseudowords, rather than words, were used to mimic early non-automatic stages of reading when reading is achieved by decoding words through grapheme–phoneme pairing and combination. We designed a negative priming paradigm in which school-aged children (10-year-olds) were asked to judge whether two pseudowords were identical on the prime and whether two animals were identical on the probe. Children required more time to determine that two animals were mirror images of each other when preceded by pseudowords containing the reversible letter b or d than when preceded by different pseudowords containing the control letter f or t (Experiment 1) or by different pseudowords that differed only by the target letter f or k (Experiment 2). These results suggest that MG must be inhibited to discriminate between pseudowords containing reversible letters, generalizing the findings regarding single letters to a context more representative of the early stages of reading.