Semantic context effects in the comprehension of reduced pronunciation variants
SourceMemory & Cognition, 39, 7, (2011), pp. 1301-1316
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
Memory & Cognition
SubjectLearning and Plasticity
According to the interactive activation framework proposed by McClelland and Rumelhart (1981), activation spreads both forward and backward between some levels of representation during visual word recognition. An important boundary condition, however, is that the spread of activation fromlower to higher levels can be prevented (e.g., explicit letter processing during prime processing eliminates the well-documented semantic priming effect). Can the spread of activation fromhigher to lower levels also be prevented? This question was addressed with a choice task procedure in which subjects read a prime word and then responded to a target, performing either lexical decision or letter search depending on the color of the target. A semantic context effect was observed in lexical decision, providing evidence of semantic-level activation. In contrast, there was no semantic context effect in the letter search task, despite evidence of lexical involvement: Words were searched faster than nonwords. Further evidence of lexical involvement in the letter search task appeared in Experiment 2 in the form of greater identity priming for words than for nonwords. The results of these experiments are consistent with the conclusion that feedback from the semantic level to the lexical level can be blocked. Hence, between-level activation blocks can be instantiated in both bottom-up and top-down directions.
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