COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGYLiterate humans sound out words during silent readingSavill, Nicolaa; Lindell, Annukkab; Booth, Alisona; West, Gemmaa; Thierry, GuillaumeaAuthor Information aSchool of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK bSchool of Psychological Science, La Trobe University, Australia Correspondence to Nicola Savill, School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2AS, UK Tel: +44 1248388584; fax: +44 1248382599; e-mail: [email protected] Received October 11, 2010 Accepted November 22, 2010 NeuroReport: February 16, 2011 - Volume 22 - Issue 3 - p 116-120 doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328342ed27 Buy Metrics Abstract Whether humans spontaneously sound out words in their mind during silent reading is a matter of debate. Some models of reading postulate that skilled readers access the meaning directly from print but others involve print-to-sound transcoding mechanisms. Here, we provide evidence that silent reading activates the sound form of words before accessing their meaning by comparing event-related potentials induced by highly expected words and their homophones. We found that expected words and words that sound the same but have a different orthography (homophones and pseudohomophones) reduce scalp activity to the same extent within 300 ms of presentation compared with unexpected words. This shows that phonological access during silent reading, which is critical for literacy acquisition, remains active in adulthood. © 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.