Phonologically-Based Priming in the Same-Different Task With L1 Readers

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The present experiment provides an investigation of a promising new tool, the masked priming same-different task, for investigating the orthographic coding process. Orthographic coding is the process of establishing a mental representation of the letters and letter order in the word being read which is then used by readers to access higher-level (e.g., semantic) information about that word. Prior research (e.g., Norris & Kinoshita, 2008) had suggested that performance in this task may be based entirely on orthographic codes. As reported by Lupker, Nakayama, and Perea (2015a), however, in at least some circumstances, phonological codes also play a role. Specifically, even though their 2 languages are completely different orthographically, Lupker et al.’s Japanese-English bilinguals showed priming in this task when masked L1 primes were phonologically similar to L2 targets. An obvious follow-up question is whether Lupker et al.’s effect might have resulted from a strategy that was adopted by their bilinguals to aid in processing of, and memory for, the somewhat unfamiliar L2 targets. In the present experiment, Japanese readers responded to (Japanese) Kanji targets with phonologically identical primes (on “related” trials) being presented in a completely different but highly familiar Japanese script, Hiragana. Once again, significant priming effects were observed, indicating that, although performance in the masked priming same-different task may be mainly based on orthographic codes, phonological codes can play a role even when the stimuli being matched are familiar words from a reader’s L1.

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