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Psychon Bull Rev. 2005 Feb;12(1):125-31.

On the categorical nature of the semantic interference effect in the picture-word interference paradigm.

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Departamento de PsicologĂ­a Basica, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Two picture-word interference experiments are reported in which the boundaries of the semantic interference effect are explored. In both experiments, participants named pictures (e.g., a picture of a car) that appeared with superimposed word distractors. Distractor words from the same semantic category as the word for the picture (e.g., CAR) produced semantic interference, whereas semantically related distractors from a different category (e.g., BUMPER) led to semantic facilitation. In Experiment 2, the semantic facilitation from semantically related distractors was replicated. These results indicate that a semantic relationship between picture and distractor does not necessarily lead to interference and in fact can lead to facilitation. In all but one case tested until now, a semantic relationship between picture and distractor has led to semantic facilitation. The implications of these results for the assumption that the semantic interference effect arises as a consequence of lexical competition are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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