The broth in my brother's brothel: Morpho-orthographic segmentation in visual word recognition

Kathleen Rastle*, Matthew H. Davis, Boris New

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    402 Citations (Scopus)


    Much research suggests that words comprising more than one morpheme are represented in a "decomposed" manner in the visual word recognition system. In the research presented here, we investigate what information is used to segment a word into its morphemic constituents and, in particular, whether semantic information plays a role in that segmentation. Participants made visual lexical decisions to stem targets preceded by masked primes sharing (1) a semantically transparent morphological relationship with the target (e.g., cleaner-CLEAN), (2) an apparent morphological relationship but no semantic relationship with the target (e.g., corner-CORN), and (3) a nonmorphological form relationship with the target (e.g., brothel-BROTH). Results showed significant and equivalent masked priming effects in cases in which primes and targets appeared to be morphologically related, and priming in these conditions could be distinguished from nonmorphological form priming. We argue that these findings suggest a level of representation at which apparently complex words are decomposed on the basis of their morpho-orthographic properties. Implications of these findings for computational models of reading are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1090-1098
    Number of pages9
    JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


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