It takes time to prime: Semantic priming in the ocular lexical decision task

Hoedemaker, R. S., & Gordon, P. C. (2014). It takes time to prime: Semantic priming in the ocular lexical decision task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(6), 2179-2197. doi:10.1037/a0037677.
Two eye-tracking experiments were conducted in which the manual response mode typically used in lexical decision tasks (LDTs) was replaced with an eye-movement response through a sequence of 3 words. This ocular LDT combines the explicit control of task goals found in LDTs with the highly practiced ocular response used in reading text. In Experiment 1, forward saccades indicated an affirmative lexical decision (LD) on each word in the triplet. In Experiment 2, LD responses were delayed until all 3 letter strings had been read. The goal of the study was to evaluate the contribution of task goals and response mode to semantic priming. Semantic priming is very robust in tasks that involve recognition of words in isolation, such as LDT, but limited during text reading, as measured using eye movements. Gaze durations in both experiments showed robust semantic priming even though ocular response times were much shorter than manual LDs for the same words in the English Lexicon Project. Ex-Gaussian distribution fits revealed that the priming effect was concentrated in estimates of tau (τ), meaning that priming was most pronounced in the slow tail of the distribution. This pattern shows differential use of the prime information, which may be more heavily recruited in cases in which the LD is difficult, as indicated by longer response times. Compared with the manual LD responses, ocular LDs provide a more sensitive measure of this task-related influence on word recognition as measured by the LDT.
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