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Lexical and sentential priming in competition: Implications for two-stage theories of lexical access

  • ARTURO E. HERNANDEZ (a1), CHRISTINE FENNEMA-NOTESTINE (a2), CARE UDELL (a2) and ELIZABETH BATES (a2)

Abstract

This article presents a new method that can compare lexical priming (word–word) and sentential priming (sentence–word) directly within a single paradigm. We show that it can be used to address modular theories of word comprehension, which propose that the effects of sentence context occur after lexical access has taken place. Although lexical priming and sentential priming each occur very quickly in time, there should be a brief time window in which the former is present but the latter is absent. Lexical and sentential priming of unambiguous words were evaluated together, in competing and converging combinations, using time windows designed to detect an early stage where lexical priming is observed but sentential priming is not. Related and unrelated word pairs were presented visually, in rapid succession, within auditory sentence contexts that were either compatible or incompatible with the target (the second word in each pair). In lexical decision, the additive effects of lexical priming and sentential priming were present under all temporal conditions, although the latter was always substantially larger. In cross-modal naming, sentential priming was present in all temporal conditions; lexical priming was more fragile, interacting with timing and sentential congruence. No evidence was found for a stage in which lexical priming is present but sentential priming is absent – a finding that is difficult to reconcile with two-stage models of lexical versus sentential priming. We conclude that sentential context operates very early in the process of word recognition, and that it can interact with lexical priming at the earliest time window.

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Corresponding author

Arturo E. Hernandez, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9660. E-mail: hernande@psych.ucsb.edu

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Lexical and sentential priming in competition: Implications for two-stage theories of lexical access

  • ARTURO E. HERNANDEZ (a1), CHRISTINE FENNEMA-NOTESTINE (a2), CARE UDELL (a2) and ELIZABETH BATES (a2)

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