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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1996 Jul;22(4):846-64.

Processing across the language boundary: a cross-modal priming study of Spanish-English bilinguals.

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  • 1Center for Research in Language, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0526, USA.


A cross-modal naming paradigm was used to assess within- and between-language sentential priming in Spanish-English bilinguals. The paradigm used single-language auditory texts with visual target words under normal, visually degraded, speeded, and delayed naming conditions. Cross-language priming was always observed when the target language was predictable (in the blocked condition), even under speeded conditions. When the target language was unpredictable (in the mixed condition), cross-language priming was observed only when response was delayed (delayed naming) and under a subset of conditions when word recognition was delayed (visual degradation). Results are compatible with the idea that cross-language priming in a sentence context is more likely to involve the use of expectations, strategic processes, or both that allow bilinguals to tune themselves to external conditions. There are enough exceptions to the general rule, however, to warrant a reconsideration of the lexical-postlexical dichotomy. Implication for modular versus interactive models of lexical access are discussed.

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