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Mem Cognit. 1997 May;25(3):333-44.

Strategic reliance on phonological mediation in lexical access.

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  • 1Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045-2336, USA.


The present study investigated strategic variation in reliance on phonological mediation in visual word recognition. In Experiment 1, semantically related or unrelated word primes preceded word, pseudohomophone (e.g., trane), or nonpseudohomophone (e.g., trank) targets in a lexical decision task. Semantic priming effects were found for words, and response latencies to pseudohomophones were longer in related than in unrelated prime conditions. In Experiment 2, related or unrelated word primes preceded word or pseudohomophone targets. A relatedness effect was found for words, although it was significant at a 600-msec prime-target stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) and not at a 200-msec SOA. There was no relatedness effect for pseudohomophones. Experiment 3 was a replication of Experiment 2, except that pseudohomophones were replaced by nonpseudohomophonic orthographic controls. Facilitation effects for related target words were greater in Experiment 3 than in Experiment 2. The results reflect apparent variations in the expectation that a related prime reliably indicates that a target is a word. Although reliance on phonological mediation might be strategically contingent, there could be a brief time period in which phonologically mediated lexical access occurs automatically. Whether phonological information is maintained or suppressed subsequently depends on its overall usefulness for the task.

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