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Semantic priming effects on picture and word processing

Abstract

The effects of semantic priming on picture and word processing were assessed under conditions in which subjects were required simply to identify stimuli (label pictures or read words) as rapidly as possible. Stimuli were presented in pairs (a prime followed by a target), with half of the pairs containing members of the same semantic category and half containing unrelated concepts. Semantic relatedness was found to facilitate the identification of both pictures (Experiment 1) and words (Experiment 2), and obtained interactions of semantic relatedness and stimulus quality in both experiments suggested that semantic priming affects the initial encoding of both types of stimuli. In Experiment 3, subjects received pairs of pictures, pairs of words, and mixed pairs composed of a picture and a word or of a word and a picture. Significant priming effects were obtained on mixed as well as unmixed pairs, supporting the assumption that pictures and words access semantic information from a common semantic store. Of primary interest was the significantly greater priming obtained in picture-picture pairs than in word-word or mixed pairs. This suggests that, in addition to priming that is mediated by the semantic system, priming may occur in picture-picture pairs that results from the overlap in visual features common to the pictorial representations of objects from the same semantic category.

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This research was supported by Grants HD00973-15, HD04510-10, and HD07045 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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Sperber, R.D., McCauley, C., Ragain, R.D. et al. Semantic priming effects on picture and word processing. Memory & Cognition 7, 339–345 (1979). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196937

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196937

Keywords

  • Priming Effect
  • Word Target
  • Trial Block
  • Semantic Relatedness
  • Lexical Decision Task