Written words supersede pictures in priming semantic access: a P300 study

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Abstract

The dynamic interplay of semantic access during information integration across the verbal and nonverbal domains and sensory modalities is poorly understood. Here, we compared the priming effects of four types of meaningful stimuli (pictures, written words, spoken words, and environmental sounds) on picture and written word targets referring to the same concept in all cases. P3b event-related brain potentials indexed automatic access to semantic memory in the different modalities. As expected, P3b amplitudes were large in the repetition priming condition, but also for word-picture and picture-word visual stimulus pairs. Critically, written word primes resulted in the largest P3b amplitudes whether elicited by written word or picture targets, suggesting a semantic priming supremacy of written words.

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