Barriers to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Autopsies, California
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When participants search for a target letter while reading, they make more omissions if the target letter is embedded in frequent function words than in less frequent content words. Reflecting developmental changes in component language and literacy skills, the size of this effect increases with age. With adults, the missing-letter effect is due to both word function and word frequency. With children, it is unclear whether the growing size of the missing-letter effect across development is due to a larger effect of word function, word frequency, or both because previous studies with children seeking to isolate the influence of word frequency and word function suffer from important methodological limitations. With these methodological limitations eliminated (Experiments 1 and 2), performance in a letter detection task was assessed for children in Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 as well as for undergraduate students. The results revealed that the influence of word function increases with age, whereas the effect of frequency is fairly stable across ages. Furthermore, normative predictability data collected in Experiment 3 revealed that third graders and undergraduate students were equally good at predicting function slots in a sentence.
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