Offline Improvement in Learning to Read a Novel Orthography Depends on Direct Letter Instruction

Tali Bitan, James R. Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improvement in performance after the end of the training session, termed "Offline improvement," has been shown in procedural learning tasks. We examined whether Offline improvement in learning a novel orthography depends on the type of reading instruction. Forty-eight adults received multisession training in reading nonsense words, written in an artificial script. Participants were trained in one of three conditions: alphabetical words preceded by direct letter instruction (Letter-Alph); alphabetical words with whole-word instruction (Word-Alph); and nonalphabetical (arbitrary) words with whole-word instruction (Word-Arb). Offline improvement was found only for the Letter-Alph group. Moreover, correlation with a standardized measure of word reading ability showed that good readers trained in the Letter-Alph group exhibit greater Offline improvement, whereas good readers trained in the Word-Arb group showed greater Within-session improvement during training. These results suggest that different consolidation processes and learning mechanisms were involved in each group. We argue that providing a short block of direct letter instruction prior to training resulted in increased involvement of procedural learning mechanisms during training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-918
Number of pages23
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Artificial language
  • Consolidation
  • Declarative memory
  • Procedural learning
  • Reading acquisition
  • Transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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