Lexical factors in conceptual processes: The relationship between semantic representations and their corresponding phonological and orthographic lexical forms

Orna Peleg, Lee Edelist, Zohar Eviatar, Dafna Bergerbest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To examine phonological and orthographic effects on semantic processing, the present study utilized a semantic task with nonverbal stimuli. In Experiment 1, Hebrew speakers were asked to decide whether 2 pictorial targets are semantically related or not. In Experiment 2, Hebrew speakers and non-Hebrew speakers were asked to rate the semantic relatedness of the same targets on a 5-point scale. Experiment 3 was identical to the first experiment except that the 2 pictures were presented simultaneously rather than sequentially. In all experiments, we compared responses to semantically unrelated pairs in 2 conditions: In the ambiguous condition, each pair represented 2 distinct meanings of an ambiguous Hebrew word. In the unambiguous condition, the first picture was replaced with an unambiguous control. To disentangle phonological and orthographic effects, three types of Hebrew ambiguous words were used: homonyms, homophones, and homographs. Ambiguous pairs were more difficult to be judged as semantically unrelated in comparison to their unambiguous controls. Moreover, while non-Hebrew speakers did not distinguish between the 2 lexical conditions, Hebrew speakers rated ambiguous pairs as significantly more related than their unambiguous controls. Importantly, in general, the ambiguity effect was stronger for homonyms, where both lexical forms are shared, than for either homophones or homographs, which are only phonologically or orthographically related. Thus, consistent with interactive “triangle” models, the results suggest that (a) conceptual-semantic representations automatically activate both their corresponding phonological and orthographic lexical forms, and (b) these lexical forms, once activated, may in turn affect semantic-conceptual processes via feedback connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-537
Number of pages19
JournalMemory and Cognition
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Psychonomic Society, Inc.

Keywords

  • Concepts
  • Lexical processing
  • Object recognition
  • Semantic memory
  • Word production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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