Language and Cognitive Processes, 12(4), p. 401-422 (1997)
In Spanish, there is some empirical support for the notion that, in visual word recognition, the syllables initially activate competing lexical candidates (Carreiras, Alvarez, & De Vega, 1993). This lexical activation, however, requires an inhibitory mechanism to select the appropriate lexical entry. The experiments presented here aimed to explore these inhibitory processes. A priming paradigm was used in which the prime and the target shared the first syllable (norma-norte), the initial letters but not the first syllable (noria-norte) or were unrelated (mando-norte or savia-norte). Subjects performed a lexical decision task on the targets and the results showed, in general, interference on the related pairs. When the frequency of mention of the prime was less than that of the target, an inhibitory effect was obtained for the same syllabic pairs but not for the same letter pairs (Experiment 1). When the frequency of mention of the prime was increased to promote direct processing of the target, the inhibitory effect extended to both conditions of related pairs (Experiment 2). Finally, the use of pseudoword primes (Experiment 3) replicated the basic pattern of results in Experiment 1. The applicability of the data to a dual-route model and the time course of syllabic processing is discussed.