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Word Retrieval Latencies as a Function of Frequency and Age-of-Priming, Repeated Trials, and Individual Differences

Carroll, John B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Individual Differences, Memory, Pictorial Stimuli, Reaction Time, Recall (Psychology), Word Recognition


In three immediately succeeding trials, 45 young adults named 50 pictures of objects as rapidly as possible; word retrieval latencies were measured for each item. Before each trial, one experimental group was given information as to the word frequency (WF) level of the items' names. The other experimental group was given information as to the typical age of acquisition (AOA) level of the names: the pictures and names had been selected such that the WF and AOA had a low correlation. Under all conditions, AOA was a stronger predictor of latencies, or response time, than WF. Scores on a psychometric test of speed of picture naming were highly correlated with mean reciprocals of latencies in the experimental picture-naming situation. Priming of responses by prior information on AOA was more facilitative than WF information, but as compared to the control condition such information had a retarding effect. Speed of naming improved over trials in all conditions, but AOA level of the names, as well as the lags between successive presentations of an item, affected the amount of improvement in a complex manner. Retrieval of an item from truly long-term memory appeared to place it in an immediate memory buffer. (Author/MV) (59pp.)

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