Are words represented by nodes?

Greg Stone, Guy C. Van Orden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Semantic priming in a lexical decision task was investigated with concurrent pretarget and posttarget primes. The posttarget prime also served as a pattern mask of the lexical decision target. Forward priming is defined as the presence of a semantically related pretarget prime and an unrelated posttarget prime. Backward priming is defined as the presence of a semantically related posttarget prime and an unrelated pretarget prime. Forward and backward priming were compared both when the nonword foils were "legal" and when they were "illegal" with respect to English orthography. Predictions were derived for two general approaches to word recognition: spreading-activation and expectancy-set theories. Both approaches assume that word representations occupy distinct, nonoverlapping locations in memory. Backward-prime facilitation was equivalent to forward-prime facilitation when nonword foils were illegal; however, backwardprime facilitation was not significant when nonword foils were legal. These results challenge both approaches. The proposed solution uses semantic-space (distributed) representations that are functionally unitized by a resonant matching (verification) process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-524
Number of pages14
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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