Figure 137

Ability to select the correct spelling of a word from various misspellings as a function of confidence in correctness of decision. Based on data in confident confident Holmes and Carruthers (1998).

The phonological output lexicon is probably used only rarely by normal individuals. As Parkin (1996, p. 185) pointed out, "Given the extensive presence of homophones in English (e.g., SAIL, SALE) and the relative scarcity of homophonic errors in spelling, it seems unlikely that the phonological output buffer is regularly involved in the generation of spellings."

It has been suggested that some patients produce spellings via a route that uses the phonological output lexicon but avoids the semantic system. For example, Goodall and Phillips (1995) described the findings from a patient, AN. She learned to read non-words, and seemed to do this by treating each one as a whole rather than by using grapheme-to-phoneme correspondence rules. AN was then able to write these non-words accurately to dictation, presumably by making use of the phonological output lexicon.

Graphemic output buffer

Caramazza, Miceli, Villa, and Romani (1987) argued that the graphemic output buffer is a memory store holding graphemic information briefly. If so, what we would expect to find in a patient with damage to the graphemic output buffer? First, the patient should have greater problems with spelling long words than short ones, because long words impose greater demands on memory. Second, if the graphemic output buffer contains only graphemic information, then spelling performance should be similar for words and for non-words. Caramazza et al. (1987) reported findings from a patient, LB, who showed the predicted pattern of results.

Section .summary

There are various ways in which word spellings can be produced, suggesting that several modules or components are involved in the writing process. Ellis and Young's (1988) model seems to be on the right lines. There is reasonable support for the components or modules that Ellis and Young (1988) identified. However, the inter-relationships among the components are probably more complex than they indicated.

The cognitive neuropsychological approach deals with some of the processes involved in sentence generation, but is almost silent on the processes involved in planning and revision. Thus, this approach provides us with a very detailed picture of a small fraction of the processes involved in writing.

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