Poster D65, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Electrophysiological evidence of lexical competition from masked neighbor priming
Gabriela Meade1,2, Katherine J. Midgley1, Jonathan Grainger3, Phillip J. Holcomb1, Karen Emmorey1; 1San Diego State University, 2University of California, San Diego, 3Aix-Marseille University & CNRS
Lexical competition among form-similar words is central to many models of visual word recognition, including the Bimodal Interactive Activation Model (BIAM). According to these models, prime words (e.g., time) should facilitate processing of neighboring target words (e.g., TAME) at a sublexical level, but interfere with processing at a lexical level due to competition. Behavioral masked priming studies have indexed the end result of these counteracting effects, reporting interference (slower RTs) for target words preceded by neighboring word primes compared to those preceded by orthographically unrelated primes. However, a technique with higher temporal precision is needed to capture the sublexical facilitation hypothesized to occur earlier in the processing stream. In an ERP masked priming lexical decision study, we presented word pairs that were orthographically related (i.e., neighbors) or unrelated. Relative to the unrelated control condition, targets preceded by neighboring primes elicited smaller amplitude N250s, but larger amplitude N400s. The early attenuated negativity supports the hypothesis that letter overlap between neighbors facilitates sublexical processing. The larger amplitude N400 is reminiscent of the behavioral interference effects observed for neighboring word pairs and provides complementary evidence of lexicosemantic competition among form-similar words. Finally, the size of this N400 effect correlated with a behavioral measure of spelling ability, suggesting that neighboring word primes induced greater interference in participants who had more precise lexical representations. Overall, this study provides novel evidence for a transition from early sublexical facilitation to later lexical competition when two subsequently presented words overlap in form, as predicted by the BIAM.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Lexicon