Automatic activation of orthography in spoken word recognition: Pseudohomograph priming

Marcus Taft*, Anne Castles, Chris Davis, Goran Lazendic, Minh Nguyen-Hoan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    76 Citations (Scopus)


    There is increasing evidence that orthographic information has an impact on spoken word processing. However, much of this evidence comes from tasks that are subject to strategic effects. In the three experiments reported here, we examined activation of orthographic information during spoken word processing within a paradigm that is unlikely to involve strategic factors, namely auditory priming where the relationship between prime and target was masked from awareness. Specifically, we examined whether auditory primes that were homographic with their spoken targets (e.g., the pseudohomograph /dri:d/, which can be spelled the same as the target word "dread") produced greater facilitation than primes that were equally phonologically related to their targets but could not be spelled the same as them (e.g., /šri:d/ followed by the spoken word "shred"). Two auditory lexical decision experiments produced clear pseudohomograph priming even though the participants were unaware of the orthographic relationship between the primes and targets. A task that required participants to merely repeat the spoken target revealed an effect of orthography on error rates, but not on latencies. It was concluded that, in literate adults, orthography is important in speech recognition just as phonology is important in reading.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)366-379
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Memory and Language
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


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