Diversity matters: The sensitivity to sublexical orthographic regularities increases with contextual diversity
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Description: ACCEPTED. Readers very rapidly capture statistics about letter co-occurrences. This has been demonstrated with artificial lexicons and/or with restricted sets of orthographic regularities. The aim of the study was twofold: To examine the learning of new orthographic regularities in a more incidental exposure paradigm, and to investigate the impact of the diversity of letter contexts in which new orthographic regularities occur. During two months, participants played detection games 20 min a day and were exposed to a large set of pseudowords, some of them entailing new bigrams (e.g., GK). Half of the new bigrams occurred in eight different items (high contextual diversity) and the other half was presented in only two items (low context diversity). At six time points, the participants performed a wordlikeness task during which they chose between two new pseudowords which one was the most similar to the items previously exposed (e.g., PUGKALE vs. PUGZALE). Results showed that readers very rapidly had a preference for items with a frequent new bigram and this sensitivity steadily increased during the two months. Furthermore, the sensitivity to these new orthographic regularities was higher in case of high letter contextual diversity. The latter result parallels what is observed at a lexical level with semantic contextual diversity.