Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1090–1098 | Cite as

The broth in my brother’s brothel: Morpho-orthographic segmentation in visual word recognition

Brief Reports


Much research suggests that words comprising more than one morpheme are represented in a “decomposed” manner in the visual word recognition system. In the research presented here, we investigate what information is used to segment a word into its morphemic constituents and, in particular, whether semantic information plays a role in that segmentation. Participants made visual lexical decisions to stem targets preceded by masked primes sharing (1) a semantically transparent morphological relationship with the target (e.g.,cleaner-CLEAN), (2) an apparent morphological relationship but no semantic relationship with the target (e.g.,corner-CORN), and (3) a nonmorphological form relationship with the target (e.g.,brothel-BROTH). Results showed significant and equivalent masked priming effects in cases in which primes and targets appeared to be morphologically related, and priming in these conditions could be distinguished from nonmorphological form priming. We argue that these findings suggest a level of representation at which apparently complex words are decomposed on the basis of their morpho-orthographic properties. Implications of these findings for computational models of reading are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEghamEngland
  2. 2.MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences UnitCambridgeEngland
  3. 3.Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEngland

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