Surviving an intervention: ERPs and masked intervenor priming

Jeffrey Witzel, Naoko Witzel, Ehsan Shafiee Zargar, Kenneth I. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the behavioural and neurophysiological consequences of presenting an additional masked word between a masked identity prime and its target. In line with previous research, the behavioural results confirmed that identity priming is reduced, but not eliminated, across a masked intervening word (Experiments 1 and 2). The results further indicated that this smaller-than-usual priming was not associated with a general attenuation of the two ERP effects that are most closely related to masked identity priming–specifically, reduced negativities in the N250 and N400 time windows for related prime-target pairs. Rather, the masked intervenor selectively eliminated the N250 effect, while leaving the N400 effect largely intact (Experiment 2). It is argued that while these results present challenges for activation-based models of masked priming, they can be accounted for under the entry-opening model, which posits that masked priming has distinct–and dissociable–form and semantic components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1024-1043
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • ERPs
  • Masked priming
  • identity priming
  • intervenor effects
  • lexical decision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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