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      Responding to nonwords in the lexical decision task: Insights from the English Lexicon Project.

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          Abstract

          Researchers have extensively documented how various statistical properties of words (e.g., word frequency) influence lexical processing. However, the impact of lexical variables on nonword decision-making performance is less clear. This gap is surprising, because a better specification of the mechanisms driving nonword responses may provide valuable insights into early lexical processes. In the present study, item-level and participant-level analyses were conducted on the trial-level lexical decision data for almost 37,000 nonwords in the English Lexicon Project in order to identify the influence of different psycholinguistic variables on nonword lexical decision performance and to explore individual differences in how participants respond to nonwords. Item-level regression analyses reveal that nonword response time was positively correlated with number of letters, number of orthographic neighbors, number of affixes, and base-word number of syllables, and negatively correlated with Levenshtein orthographic distance and base-word frequency. Participant-level analyses also point to within- and between-session stability in nonword responses across distinct sets of items, and intriguingly reveal that higher vocabulary knowledge is associated with less sensitivity to some dimensions (e.g., number of letters) but more sensitivity to others (e.g., base-word frequency). The present findings provide well-specified and interesting new constraints for informing models of word recognition and lexical decision.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn
          Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition
          American Psychological Association (APA)
          1939-1285
          0278-7393
          May 2015
          : 41
          : 3
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore.
          [2 ] Haskins Laboratories.
          [3 ] Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis.
          [4 ] Department of Psychology, Ohio State University.
          [5 ] Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut.
          Article
          2014-43698-001 NIHMS626380
          10.1037/xlm0000064
          4404174
          25329078
          f864e6aa-c655-418b-baa0-96caa034935a

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