The spelling direction (backward or forward) of words presented for study and test was varied factorially. During recognition Ss indicated which word of each test pair had been presented for study, and the incorrect choice of each pair was a homophone, a synonym, or a word unrelated to the correct choice. Recognition was worst with synonym distractors and best with unrelated word distractors. For each type of distractor, recognition was better for backward-spelled study words than for forward-spelled study words, and words spelled in the same direction in both study and test were recognized better than words spelled in a different direction during study and test. The latter result supports the hypothesis that visual information may be important for word recognition. The latencies of correct recognition responses suggested that memory of decoding acts can facilitate subsequent similar decodings.
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