Automatic Processes in Lexical Access and Spreading Activation

Frances J. Friedrich, Avishai Henik, Joseph Tzelgov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The semantic priming effect can be reduced or eliminated depending on how the prime word is processed. The experiments reported here investigate this prime task effect. Two experiments used identity and semantic priming tasks to determine whether the prime word is encoded at a lexical level under letter-search conditions. When the prime task was naming, both identity and semantic priming occurred; however, when a letter-search task was performed on the prime word, only identity priming occurred, thus supporting the argument that the search task affects activation of semantic associates rather than lexical access of the prime word. Another experiment demonstrated that this identity priming was the result of lexical processes rather than of letter-by-letter priming. A cross-modal priming technique demonstrated that the letter-search prime task does not actively suppress activation of semantic associates. The implications of these results for automaticity and for proposed mechanisms of priming are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-806
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Automatic Processes in Lexical Access and Spreading Activation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this