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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2006 Jan;32(1):1-14.

Eye movements to pictures reveal transient semantic activation during spoken word recognition.

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Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


Two experiments explore the activation of semantic information during spoken word recognition. Experiment 1 shows that as the name of an object unfolds (e.g., lock), eye movements are drawn to pictorial representations of both the named object and semantically related objects (e.g., key). Experiment 2 shows that objects semantically related to an uttered word's onset competitors become active enough to draw visual attention (e.g., if the uttered word is logs, participants fixate on key because of partial activation of lock), despite that the onset competitor itself is not present in the visual display. Together, these experiments provide detailed information about the activation of semantic information associated with a spoken word and its phonological competitors and demonstrate that transient semantic activation is sufficient to impact visual attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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