Age-Related Slowing and the Time Course of Semantic Priming in Visual Word Identification

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In 4 experiments, the authors investigated the time course of semantic priming effects during 2 forms of visual word identification, lexical decision and pronunciation. On each trial, a target letter string was preceded by a single-word priming context. The effects of varying the stimulus onset asynchrony between the prime and the target indicated that the time course of semantic priming was equivalent for young and older adults. There were no consistent differences between lexical decision and pronunciation in the time course of semantic priming. The age differences associated with response selection were greater than would be predicted by generalized age-related slowing. The semantic priming effects were also inconsistent with a generalized slowing model, but the reliability of these effects was substantially lower than the reliability of the other task-related variables.

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