Friend or foe? Flankers reverse the direction of orthographic neighbourhoodeffects


  • Meade Gabriela
  • Grainger Jonathan
  • Declerck Mathieu


  • Lexical decision task
  • Orthographic neighbours
  • Flankers task
  • Lateralinhibition
  • Multiple Read-OutModel

document type



Increasing the neighbourhood density of a word typically facilitates lexical decision responses andinterferes in sentence reading. The Multiple Read-Out Model accounts for such variation bypostulating that word responses in the lexical decision task can be made via two mechanisms–identifying the word or using the global lexical activity that it generates. Here, we asked whetheradding unrelatedflanking words to either side of the target would modulate the relativecontribution of these two mechanisms. That is, doflankers promote the use of word identificationprocesses that are more characteristic of sentence reading? In line with our hypothesis, inExperiment 1flanker words increased the inhibitory influence of orthographic neighbours relativeto single word presentation. In Experiment 2,flanker neighbourhood density did not affect lexicaldecisions to central targets. This pattern indicates that the mechanisms used to make a lexicaldecision can be modulated by a minimal“sentence-like”context

more information