How does the provision of semantic information influence the lexicalization of new spoken words?

Erin Hawkins, Kathleen Rastle

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The integration of a novel spoken word with existing lexical items can proceed within 24 hours of learning its phonological form. However, previous studies have reported that lexical integration of new spoken words can be delayed if semantic information is provided during learning. One possibility is that this delay in lexical integration reflects reduced phonological processing during learning as a consequence of the need to learn the semantic associations. In the current study, adult participants learnt novel words via a phoneme monitoring task, in which half of the words were associated with a picture referent, and half were phonological forms only. Critically, participants were instructed to learn the forms of the novel words, with no explicit goal to learn the word–picture mappings. Results revealed significant lexical competition effects emerging one week after consolidation, which were equivalent for the picture-present and form-only conditions. Tests of declarative memory and shadowing showed equivalent performance for picture-present and form-only words, despite participants showing good knowledge of the picture associations immediately after learning. These data support the contention that provided phonological information is recruited sufficiently well during learning, the provision of semantic information does not slow the time-course of lexical integration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1339
Number of pages18
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date1 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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