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Abstract: To investigate mechanisms of strategic control over response initiation in word reading, we introduce the tempo naming task. Relative to baseline performance in the standard naming task, subjects were induced to respond with faster latencies, shorter durations, and lower levels of accuracy by instructing them to time response initiation with an experimentally controlled tempo. The effects of printed frequency and spelling-sound consistency on latencies were attenuated in the tempo naming task, compared to standard naming. The number of spelling-sound errors remained constant with faster tempos, while the number of word, nonword, and articulatory errors increased. We interpret these results as inconsistent with a time criterion mechanism of control over response timing in the tempo naming task. Instead, we invoke input gain as a mechanism of control over processing speed throughout the word reading system. We sketch how input gain could account for the tempo naming results, as well as some stimulus blocking results that have been used in the debate between the route emphasis and time criterion hypotheses of strategic control in word reading.
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