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Target accessibility contributes to asymmetric priming in translation and cross-language semantic priming in unbalanced bilinguals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2017

Bar Ilan University
Bar Ilan University
University of Haifa
Address for correspondence: Anat Prior, Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa,


The current study examined within- and cross-language connectivity in four priming conditions: repetition, translation, within-language semantic and cross-language semantic priming. Unbalanced Hebrew–English bilinguals (N = 89) completed a lexical decision task in one of the four conditions in both languages. Priming effects were significantly larger from L1 to L2 for translation priming and marginally so for cross-language semantic priming. Priming effects were comparable for L1 and L2 in repetition and within-language semantic priming. These results support the notion that L1 words are more effective primes but also that L2 targets benefit more from priming. This pattern of results suggests that the lower frequency of use of L2 lexical items in unbalanced bilinguals contributes to asymmetrical cross-language priming via lower resting-level activation of targets and not only via less efficient lexical activation of primes, as highlighted by the BIA+ model.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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The authors thank Andrei Markus for programming assistance and Nachshon Korem for help in data collection and coding. The research was supported by EU-FP7 Grant IRG-249163 to AP, and by the Edmond J. Safra Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities at the University of Haifa.


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Target accessibility contributes to asymmetric priming in translation and cross-language semantic priming in unbalanced bilinguals
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