Mechanisms for accessing lexical representations for output: Evidence from a category-specific semantic deficit

Argye E. Hillis, Alfonso Caramazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


We report the performance of a neurologically impaired patient, JJ, whose oral reading of words exceeded his naming and comprehension performance for the same words-a pattern of performance that has been previously presented as evidence for "direct, nonsemantic, lexical" routes to output in reading. However, detailed analyses of JJ's reading and comprehension revealed two results that do not follow directly from the "direct route" hypothesis: (1) He accurately read aloud all orthophonologically regular words and just those irregular words for which he demonstrated some comprehension (as indicated by correct responses or within-category semantic errors in naming and comprehension tasks); and (2) his reading errors on words that were not comprehended at all (but were recognized as words) were phonologically plausible (e.g., soot read as "suit"). We account for these results by proposing that preserved sublexical mechanisms for converting print to sound, together with partially preserved semantic information, serve to mediate the activation of representations in the phonological output lexicon in the task of reading aloud. We present similar arguments for postulating an interaction between sublexical mechanisms and lexical output components of the spelling process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-144
Number of pages39
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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