, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 3-12

Accessing lexical memory: The transfer of word repetition effects across task and modality


Reading by literate adults is generally assumed to represent skill acquired years earlier. However, the present experiments show that aspects of that skill can be readily modified. In two experiments, pronunciation of visually presented common words speeded later recognition of those words. This facilitation of recognition occurred although subjects did not expect word repetition and the task was changed from pronunciation to recognition. In contrast, naming pictures did not facilitate later recognition of visually presented picture names. The occurrence of facilitation when the task was changed and the lack of facilitation when stimulus format was changed suggest that facilitation occurs in the processes of encoding and accessing memory, processes that may change little across tasks but may change substantially with stimulus format changes. This facilitation of recognition occurs automatically without mediation by subjects’ expectations. A third experiment indicates that this facilitation of recognition shows little relation to episodic memory.

This research was partially supported by Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, and by a Faculty Research Award from the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. This research was conducted while the first author was a guest of the Human Information Processing Research department during a sabbatical leave from Brooklyn College.