Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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Previous work has shown that novel morphologically complex words (henceforth neologisms) leave traces in memory after just one encounter. This study addressed the question whether these traces are abstract in nature or exemplars. In three experiments, neologisms were either primed by themselves or by their stems. The primes occurred in the visual modality whereas the targets were presented in the auditory modality (Experiment 1) or vice versa (Experiments 2 and 3). The primes were presented in sentences in a selfpaced reading task (Experiment 1) or in stories in a listening comprehension task (Experiments 2 and 3). The targets were incorporated in lexical decision tasks, auditory or visual (Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, respectively), or in stories in a self-paced reading task (Experiment 3). The experimental part containing the targets immediately followed the familiarization phase with the primes (Experiment 1), or after a one week delay (Experiments 2 and 3). In all experiments, participants recognized neologisms faster if they had encountered them before (identity priming) than if the familiarization phase only contained the neologisms’ stems (stem priming). These results show that the priming effects are robust despite substantial differences between the primes and the targets. This suggests that the traces novel morphologically complex words leave in memory after just one encounter are abstract in nature.


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