Powell, D., Plaut, D. C., and Funnell, E. (2001). Does the Plaut, McClelland, Seidenberg and Patterson (1996) connectionist model of single word reading learn to read in the same way as a child? [Abstract] Meeting of the British Experimental Psychology Society.


The Plaut, McClelland, Seidenberg and Patterson (1996) learning model of reading was evaluated, at two points early in its training, against data from 23 children in the first term (Time 1) and again in the third term (Time 2) of their reception year. Three main findings, relating to the children's performance on a set of words and a set of simple non-words, formed the basis of this evaluation.

At Time 1 the children read more words than non-words correctly, but at Time 2 the word advantage disappeared. The network, however, showed a word advantage at both Times 1 and 2.

Children made more lexical than non-lexical errors, both in word and non-word reading, whereas the network consistently produced more non-lexical errors. Both the children and, surprisingly, the network showed an initial letter advantage.

Two adaptations were made to the training of the network, to bring it closer to the learning environment of a child. An incremental training regime was adopted as was training on grapheme-phoneme correspondences. As a result of these adaptations non-word reading sharply improved relative to word reading, providing a better fit to the children's data. However, the types of errors made by the network remained very different to the children?s, and the initial letter advantage was compromised.

Plaut, D. C., McClelland, J.L., Seidenberg, M.S. & Patterson, K. (1996). Understanding normal and impaired word reading: Computational principles in quasi-regular domains. Psychological Review, 103, 56-115.

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