Evidence for lexical access in a simultaneous matching task

Susan M. Chambers, Kenneth I. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Reaction times in a simultaneous visual matching task were obtained for four types of letter strings: high-frequency words, low-frequency words, orthographically legal nonwords, e.g., CRAWN, and random letter strings. Two findings supported the notion that the matching of word items involves lexical access. First, words were processed faster than legal nonwords, indicating that the analysis of words uses an additional source of information apart from the constraints imposed by orthographic rules. Second, high-frequency words were processed faster than low-frequency words, indicating lexical search. It is proposed that three levels of identification and comparison operate simultaneously in the matching task: at a word level, a letter cluster level, and a letter level. The results of a second experiment give some support to the idea that these levels operate for "different" items as well as "same" items. Whether familiarity effects will be observed for "different" items will depend on the amount of identification and comparison of the two letter strings which is necessary before a difference is detected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-559
Number of pages11
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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