Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Semantic Priming with Product Verification but Not Production

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Semantic Priming with Product Verification but Not Production

Article excerpt

Campbell and Reynvoet (2009) found that time to name a single-digit target was about 8 ms faster if preceded by a near prime (± 1) compared to a far prime (at least ± 3) when prime-digit pairs were interleaved with number comparisons (9 [arrow up] 3; name larger) and not when they were interleaved with multiplication problems (9 × 3; state product). This is consistent with the claim by previous researchers that magnitude comparison can enable a semantic pathway for digit naming whereas number-fact retrieval can inhibit it. To pursue this, the current study compared priming in the context of multiplication production (9 × 3 = ?) versus multiplication verification (e.g., 9 × 3 = 24, true or false). Multiplication production, but not verification, may inhibit semantic digit naming to reduce naming-related interference with verbal number production. Indeed, semantic priming of digit naming occurred only in verification and not production blocks. This supports the conclusion that multiplication production can inhibit semantic mediation of digit naming, which is enabled in other number processing tasks (e.g., comparison, verification) that do not compete with naming for verbal number production processes.

Keywords: context-dependent priming, number naming, arithmetic

Producing, for example, the spoken word "four" given the Arabic digit 4 is hypothesised to recruit two distinct cognitive processing routes. One is a direct, asemantic route from visual recognition codes for Arabic digits to spoken output of number names; the second is an indirect, semantic path that links digit codes to number names via their mutual associations with semantic quantity representations (Cohen & Dehaene, 1995; Dehaene, Molko, Cohen, & Wilson, 2004; Ratinckx, Brysbaert, & Fias, 2005; Roelofs, 2006). Both pathways potentially contribute to digit naming performance, but number-fact retrieval (9 × 3 = ?) may inhibit the semantic route (Cohen & Dehaene, 1995; Cipolotti & Butterworth, 1995; Fias, 2001). Why would this occur? Errors produced by speeded performance of simple addition and multiplication often contain the names of the operands (e.g., 9 × 6 = 36 or 8 × 4 = 24; Campbell, 1994, 1997). This indicates that digit naming interferes with number-fact production; consequently, inhibition of digit naming would be an adaptive mechanism.

Campbell and Metcalfe (2008) proposed that inhibition of one path would eliminate the RT advantage expected with two pathways and slow RT (see Miller & Ulrich, 2003, for a discussion of redundancy gain). They showed that time to name single-digit Arabic numbers was about 1 5 ms slower when naming trials were interleaved with simple multiplication (e.g., state product of 9 × 3) compared to naming digits interleaved with magnitude comparison (e.g., state larger of 9 f 3). This is consistent with the hypothesis that multiplication inhibited one of the two hypothetical routes, presumptively the semantic route, whereas comparison enabled both routes allowing digit naming to benefit from redundancy gain.

To test the semantic inhibition hypothesis more directly, Campbell and Reynvoet (2009) examined semantic priming of digit naming. This is a well-established phenomenon whereby RTs are faster when a target number is preceded by a numerically near prime than a more distant prime (Reynvoet & Brysbaert, 1999; Reynvoet, Brysbaert & Fias, 2002). In support of the semantic inhibition hypothesis, Campbell and Reynvoet showed that RT to name a target digit was 8 ms faster when preceded by a near prime (± 1) compared to a far prime (at least ± 3) but only when naming was interleaved with magnitude comparison trials (choose larger 9 × 3) and not when interleaved with simple multiplication trials (9X3 = ?). This context-dependent semantic priming is consistent with the claim that number comparison enabled a semantic pathway for naming whereas multiplication inhibited it.

A concern with Campbell and Reynvoet (2009), however, is that their experiment contrasted task contexts that differed on several dimensions (e. …

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