Early morphological decomposition during visual word recognition: Evidence from masked transposed-letter priming

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(5), 937–942. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-011-0120-y


The present experiments were designed to explore the theory of early morpho-orthographic segmentation (Rastle, Davis, & New, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 11,1090-1098, 2004), which postulates that written words with a true morphologically complex structure (cleaner) and those with a morphological pseudostructure (corner) are both decomposed into affix and stem morphemes. We used masked complex transposed-letter (TL) nonword primes in a lexical decision task. Experiment 1 replicated the well-known masked TL-priming effect using monomorphemic nonword primes (e.g., wran-WARN). Experiment 2 used the same nonword TL stems as in Experiment 1, but combined them with real suffixes (e.g., ish as in wranish-WARN). Priming was compared with that from nonsuffixed primes in which the real suffixes were replaced with nonmorphemic endings (e.g., el as in wranel-WARN). Significant priming was found in the suffixed but not in the nonsuffixed condition, suggesting that affix-stripping occurs at prelexical stages in visual word recognition and operates over early letter-position encoding mechanisms.

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(5), 937–942