Is the masked priming same-different task a pure measure of prelexical processing?
Kelly, Andrew N. and Van Heuven, Walter J.B. and Pitchford, Nicola J. and Ledgeway, Tim (2013) Is the masked priming same-different task a pure measure of prelexical processing? PLoS ONE, 8 (9). e72888/1-e72888/15. ISSN 1932-6203
To study prelexical processes involved in visual word recognition a task is needed that only operates at the level of abstract letter identities. The masked priming same-different task has been purported to do this, as the same pattern of priming is shown for words and nonwords. However, studies using this task have consistently found a processing advantage for words over nonwords, indicating a lexicality effect. We investigated the locus of this word advantage. Experiment 1 used conventional visually-presented reference stimuli to test previous accounts of the lexicality effect. Results rule out the use of different strategies, or strength of representations, for words and nonwords. No interaction was shown between prime type and word type, but a consistent word advantage was found. Experiment 2 used novel auditorally-presented reference stimuli to restrict nonword matching to the sublexical level. This abolished scrambled priming for nonwords, but not words. Overall this suggests the processing advantage for words over nonwords results from activation of whole-word, lexical representations. Furthermore, the number of shared open-bigrams between primes and targets could account for scrambled priming effects. These results have important implications for models of orthographic processing and studies that have used this task to investigate prelexical processes
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