Nonverbal Semantic Processing Disrupts Visual Word Recognition in Healthy Adults

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Cognitive Science Society


Two experiments examined the effect of semantic interference on visual lexical decision (vLD) in normal skilled readers. Experiment 1 employed a dual-task paradigm to test whether nonverbal semantic processing disrupts visual word recognition when the orthographic structure of words and non-words is controlled. Experiment 2 employed the same paradigm to test whether participants strategically shifted their reliance onto orthographic information when orthographic structure provided a cue to lexicality. The results showed (1) significant semantic interference in the vLD task in normal skilled readers when words and non-words were matched for orthographic well-formedness and (2) no semantic interference when words and non-words differed reliably in their orthographic well-formedness. The results are consistent with the view that accurate lexical decisions depend upon semantic activation, especially when judgments cannot be made on the basis of orthographic structure alone.