Abstractionist versus exemplar-based theories of visual word priming: A subsystems resolution

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Abstract

Three experiments addressed abstractionist versus exemplar-based theories of the visual representations underlying word priming. Participants first read centrally presented whole words (each displayed in all lowercase or in all uppercase letters), and then they completed laterally presented word stems (each displayed in all lowercase or in all uppercase letters). Word stem completion priming was letter-case specific (greater for same-case primed items than for different-case primed items) when stems were presented directly to the right cerebral hemisphere but not when stems were presented directly to the left cerebral hemisphere. This interaction was not influenced by the typicality of the test stems, but it was observed only for stems composed of letters with visually dissimilar lowercase and uppercase structures (e.g., bea/BEA) and not for stems composed of letters with visually similar lowercase and uppercase structures (e.g., sco/SCO). In contrast, cued recall was letter-case specific when similar-case or dissimilar-case stems were presented directly to the right hemisphere. Results do not support strongly abstractionist or exemplar-based theories. Instead, they suggest a resolution to these differing perspectives: Relatively independent neural subsystems operate in parallel to underlie abstract-category and specific-exemplar priming of word forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1259
Number of pages27
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
Volume57
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to Chad J. Marsolek, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. Email: chad.j.marsolek-1@umn.edu This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Grants MH53959 and MH60442; by the McDonnell-Pew Cognitive Neuroscience Center and the Arizona Cognitive Science Program of the University of Arizona; and by the Center for Cognitive Sciences in conjunction with the National Science Foundation (GER 9454163), the Office of the Vice President for Research, and Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota. I thank Chris Azorson for substantial insights, Jeff Bowers, Tom Carr, Andrew Ellis, Jonathan Grainger, Arne Ostergaard, Martin Pickering, and Bruce Whittlesea for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article, and Brian Ecker, Brendan Ewald, Erin Stoltz, and Michele Wright for valuable assistance with data collection and analysis. An early portion of this research was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Los Angeles (1995).

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