Reading Aloud

Evidence for Contextual Control Over Lexical Activation

Roy Ferguson*, Serje Robidoux, Derek Besner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Can readers exert control (albeit unconsciously) over activation at particular loci in the reading system? The authors addressed this issue in 4 experiments in which participants read target words aloud and the factors of prime-target relation (semantic, repetition), context (related, unrelated), stimulus quality (bright, dim), and relatedness proportion (RP; high, low) were manipulated. In the high RP condition (RP = .5), an interaction between semantic context and stimulus quality was observed in which low stimulus quality slowed unrelated targets more than related ones, replicating previous work. In contrast, the low RP condition (RP = .25) yielded additive effects of semantic context and stimulus quality. However, when low RP was examined within the context of repetition priming, context and stimulus quality once again interacted. These results are discussed in the context of a widely endorsed framework with the addition of the central assumption that there is control over feedback between various levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-507
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


  • contextual control
  • lexical activation
  • priming
  • relatedness proportion

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