An event-related brain potential analysis of visual word priming effects

Brown, C. M., Hagoort, P., & Chwilla, D. J. (2000). An event-related brain potential analysis of visual word priming effects. Brain and Language, 72, 158-190. doi:10.1006/brln.1999.2284.
Two experiments are reported that provide evidence on task-induced effects during visual lexical processing in a primetarget semantic priming paradigm. The research focuses on target expectancy effects by manipulating the proportion of semantically related and unrelated word pairs. In Experiment 1, a lexical decision task was used and reaction times (RTs) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were obtained. In Experiment 2, subjects silently read the stimuli, without any additional task demands, and ERPs were recorded. The RT and ERP results of Experiment 1 demonstrate that an expectancy mechanism contributed to the priming effect when a high proportion of related word pairs was presented. The ERP results of Experiment 2 show that in the absence of extraneous task requirements, an expectancy mechanism is not active. However, a standard ERP semantic priming effect was obtained in Experiment 2. The combined results show that priming effects due to relatedness proportion are induced by task demands and are not a standard aspect of online lexical processing.
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