Being forward not backward: lexical limits to masked priming

Chris Davis, Jeesun Kim*, Kenneth I. Forster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated whether masked priming is mediated by existing memory representations by determining whether nonwords targets would show repetition priming. To avoid the potential confound that nonword repetition priming would be obscured by a familiarity response bias, the standard lexical decision and naming tasks were modified to make targets unfamiliar. Participants were required to read a target string from right to left (i.e., "ECAF" should be read as "FACE") and then make a response. To examine if priming was based on lexical representations, repetition primes consisted of words when read forwards or backwards (e.g., "face", "ecaf") and nonwords (e.g., "pame", "emap"). Forward and backward primes were used to test if task instruction affected prime encoding. The lexical decision and naming tasks showed the same pattern of results: priming only occurred for forward primes with word targets (e.g., "face-ECAF"). Additional experiments to test if response priming affected the LDT indicated that the lexical status of the prime per se did not affect target responses. These results showed that the encoding of masked primes was unaffected by the novel task instruction and support the view that masked priming is due to the automatic triggering of pre-established computational processes based on stored information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-684
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Masked priming
  • Word recognition


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