Competition from unseen or unheard novel words: Lexical consolidation across modalities

Bakker, I., Takashima, A., van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). Competition from unseen or unheard novel words: Lexical consolidation across modalities. Journal of Memory and Language, 73, 116-139. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2014.03.002.
In four experiments we investigated the formation of novel word memories across modalities, using competition between novel words and their existing phonological/orthographic neighbours as a test of lexical integration. Auditorily acquired novel words entered into competition both in the spoken modality (Experiment 1) and in the written modality (Experiment 4) after a consolidation period of 24 h. Words acquired from print, on the other hand, showed competition effects after 24 h in a visual word recognition task (Experiment 3) but required additional training and a consolidation period of a week before entering into spoken-word competition (Experiment 2). These cross-modal effects support the hypothesis that lexicalised rather than episodic representations underlie post-consolidation competition effects. We suggest that sublexical phoneme–grapheme conversion during novel word encoding and/or offline consolidation enables the formation of modality-specific lexemes in the untrained modality, which subsequently undergo the same cortical integration process as explicitly perceived word forms in the trained modality. Although conversion takes place in both directions, speech input showed an advantage over print both in terms of lexicalisation and explicit memory performance. In conclusion, the brain is able to integrate and consolidate internally generated lexical information as well as external perceptual input.
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