Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Associative Priming Effects with Visible, Transposed-Letter Nonwords: JUGDE Facilitates COURT

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Associative Priming Effects with Visible, Transposed-Letter Nonwords: JUGDE Facilitates COURT

Article excerpt

Published online: 25 January 2012

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Abstract Associative priming effects can be obtained with masked nonword primes or with masked pseudohomophone primes (e.g., judpe-COURT, tode-FROG), but not with visible primes. The usual explanation is that when the prime is visible, these stimuli no longer activate the semantic representations of their base words. Given the important role of transposed-letter stimuli (e.g., jugde) in visual word recognition, here we examined whether or not an associative priming effect could be obtained with visible transposedletter nonword primes (e.g., jugde-COURT) in a series of lexical decision experiments. Results showed a sizable associative priming effect with visible transposed-letter nonword primes (i.e., jugde-COURT faster than neevr- COURT) in Experiments 1-3 that was close to that with word primes. In contrast, we failed to find a parallel effect with replacement-letter nonword primes (Experiment 2). These findings pose some constraints to models of visual word recognition.

Keywords Letter coding . Associative priming . Lexical decision

An important phenomenon for specifying the front-end of models of visual word recognition is the so-called transposed- letter effect: A nonword like jugde can be easily confusable with its base word, judge (Bruner & O'Dowd, 1958; O'Connor & Forster, 1981; Perea, Rosa, & Gómez, 2005; Rayner, White, Johnson, & Liversedge, 2006). The robustness of this effect poses some problems for slotcoding input schemes (i.e., the one used by the interactive activation model [McClelland & Rumelhart, 1981] and its successors) and has led to a cohort of more flexible input coding schemes (e.g., SERIOL model, Whitney, 2001; spatial coding model, Davis, 2010; overlap model, Gomez, Ratcliff, & Perea, 2008; open-bigram model, Grainger & van Heuven, 2003).

The focus of this report is to examine to what extent lexical/semantic activation from a transposed-letter nonword is sustained in time. To that end, we examine the impact of transposed-letter words in an associative priming paradigm. Prior studies have shown that when a transposedletter nonword is presented briefly and masked, using a masked priming technique, there is access to associative information from the base word: Responses to the target COURT are faster when it is preceded by jugde than when it is preceded by the control nonword neevr (Perea & Lupker, 2003). Furthermore, Perea and Lupker (Experiment 1) found that the masked associative priming effect with word primes and with transposed-letter nonword primes was similar in magnitude (14.5 and 11 ms, respectively). Other masked priming studies have also shown similar priming effects from associatively mediated words (e.g., tail-STORY via tale, tode-FROG via toad, judpe-COURT via judge, or toffee-CUP via coffee; see Bourassa & Besner, 1998; Drieghe & Brysbaert, 2002; Duñabeitia, Carreiras, & Perea, 2008; Lesch & Pollatsek, 1993; Lukatela & Turvey, 1994).

Importantly, in all the above-cited studies, the priming effect with an associatively mediated stimulus vanished when prime exposure duration allowed for the identification of the prime stimulus (see Bourassa & Besner, 1998; Drieghe & Brysbaert, 2002; Duñabeitia et al., 2008; Lesch & Pollatsek, 1993; Lukatela & Turvey, 1994). For instance, the one-letter-different nonword prime judpe facilitates the processing of COURT when it is presented very briefly (and masked), while it does not facilitate the processing of COURT when it is presented for 250 ms (Bourassa & Besner, 1998). The absence of a mediated associative priming effect with homophone/pseudohomophone/nonword primes has usually been interpreted in terms of an activation- verification account (Paap, Newsome, McDonald, & Schvaneveldt, 1982). At brief and masked presentations, the prime stimulus activates a number of potential candidates (i. …

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