Elisa Gavard and Johannes C. Ziegler
Semantic and syntactic prediction effects were investigated in a word naming task using semantic or syntactic contexts that varied between three and six words. Participants were asked to read the contexts silently and name a target word, which was indicated by a color change. Semantic contexts were composed of lists of semantically associated words without any syntactic information. Syntactic contexts were composed of semantically neutral sentences, in which the grammatical category but not the lexical identity of the final word was highly predictable. When the presentation time of the context words was long (1,200 ms), both semantically and syntactically related contexts facilitated reading aloud latencies of target words and syntactically related contexts produced larger priming effects than semantically related contexts in two out of three analyses. When the presentation time was short (200 ms), however, syntactic context effects disappeared, while semantic context effects remained significant. Across the three experiments, longer contexts produced faster response latencies, but longer contexts did not produce larger priming effects. The results are discussed in the context of the extant literature on semantic and syntactic priming and more recent evidence, suggesting that syntactic information constrains single word recognition.