Priming of new associations in reading time: What is learned?

Russell A. Poldrack, Neal J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The priming of new associations has been a controversial topic, with some studies finding significant effects but others failing to replicate these results. Three studies investigated the priming of new associations in a reading time task, presenting lists of word pairs that were read aloud as quickly as possible. In Experiment 1, significant priming of new associations was found after two study presentations, replicating similar results by Moscovitch, Winocur, and MacLachan (1986). In Experiment 2, reading time was facilitated for intact pairs when word positions remained constant relative to when word positions were reversed. This suggested that the associative priming effect was related to specific lower level features of the word pairs rather than to abstract associations. In Experiment 3, the insertion of the word and between test words eliminated the pairing-specific effect, placing the locus of new association priming at the transition between words within pairs. These findings demonstrate that the knowledge that supports priming of new associations in the reading time task involves perceptual or articulatory information about the transitions between words rather than abstract associative knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-402
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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