Novel forms in the adult mental lexicon: Listening to new neighbors
Berg, Steven A.
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The current investigation examined the nature of the activation-competition process that is the hallmark of spoken word recognition (Luce & Pisoni, 1998). The present experiments focused on acquisition of new nonword forms that are carefully designed to compete with existing lexical items (e.g., "cathedruke" [arrow right] "cathedral"; "shum" [arrow right] "shun"). The specific aim of the research was to examine the processing costs for recognition of established neighboring words following exposure to new items. Experiments 1a and b examined processing for both mono- and multisyllabic words for which listeners have learned a new competitor in an attempt to contrast claims about the nature of lexical competition made by two prominent models of spoken word recognition, Cohort Theory and the Neighborhood Activation Model. Experiments 2a and b delved further into an examination of the nature of the competitive environment by manipulating the number and exposure frequency of novel items in an attempt to directly assess the costs of multiple activation. In both Experiments 2a and b, effects of more training (additional novel neighbors or increased exposure frequency, respectively) were facilitative, not competitive. The results are discussed within the context of Vitevitch and Luce's (1999) two-stage model of spoken word recognition.