UBC Undergraduate Research

Inhibitory Interaction: The Effects of Experience and Distractor Lexicality on a Lexical Decision Task Ludovici, Michelina


The research tests the prediction of the inhibitory-interaction hypothesis (Wey, Cook, Landis, Regard, & Graves, 1993) that experience alters the pattern of interhemispheric communication during reading and tests whether this pattern is altered by the lexicality of a peripheral stimulus. Right-handed undergraduate students are presented letter strings, one-at-a-time, to the centre visual field for lexical decision. The letter strings are familiar words, orthographically correct pseudowords, or orthographically incorrect non-words. In Experiment I, each letter string is accompanied by a blinking lexical (M) or non-lexical (light) distractor presented to the left or right visual field, or not at all. In Experiment II, letter strings are accompanied by a blinking lexical distractor (HAT) or non-lexical distractor (light). Results from Experiment I support our predictions, that experience alters hemispheric processing, leading to a left hemisphere advantage. In addition, distracting the right hemisphere with a lexical distractor slowed response time to pseudowords, and it was more costly to distract the right hemisphere with a non lexical distractor in the nonword condition, compared to a lexical one. Results for Experiment II also offer support for our predictions. The pattern of asymmetry increased with experience leading to suppression of the non dominant hemisphere, which was clear with common words, less so with pseudowords, and not present with nonwords. The lexicality of a distractor affected processing for common words, as it was more costly to present a lexical distractor to either visual field, compared to conditions when both were free to engage.

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