Masked partial priming of letter perception


  • Petit Jp
  • Grainger J

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In three experiments testing 178 subjects, letter targets were preceded by briefly presented, pattern-masked primes formed by deleting pixels in a larger or smaller version of the target stimulus. In Experiment 1A (alphabetic decision) and Experiment 1B (letter naming) a slight advantage was observed for global primes (alternate pixels deleted) compared with junction primes (midsegment information removed). This advantage was stronger at 50 ms prime exposures than at 30 ms exposures in the naming task. In Experiment 2 (letter naming), midsegment primes (with junction information removed) produced faster latencies than did junction primes. This result was replicated in a third experiment and was shown to be independent of target letter case and the relative size of prime and target stimuli. The same midsegment and junction primes did not facilitate performance compared to neutral primes in the alphabetic decision task. These results suggest that masked partial priming of letter naming can be usefully applied to the study of basic processes in letter perception.

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