Date of Graduation

Fall 2008


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

D. Wayne Mitchell


heart rate, attention, verbal ability, information processing, individual differences

Subject Categories



This experiment investigated the relationship between verbal ability and the identification of letters and words. Heart rate (HR) has been found to be a sensitive measure of individual differences in the processing of letters between high and low ability readers. Poor readers displayed heart rate acceleration on letter discrimination tasks, whereas high ability readers displayed HR deceleration. This high and low ability reading difference has been attributed to differences in the initial allocation of attentional processes: encoding effort versus mental letter naming. In an effort to extend the use of HR as a measure of processing differences, this study examined the magnitude of HR change while naming (and the latency to name) complete and partial letters and words as a function verbal ability. Preliminary analyses revealed processing differences between high and low verbal ability adults were found on partial letter and word identification tasks as indicated by HR deceleration and faster naming reaction times for high verbal ability participants in contrast to low verbal ability participants. A HR-defined attentional model is proposed.


© Amanda Marie Keeter

Campus Only