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Semantic priming from crowded words.

Vision in a cluttered scene is extremely inefficient. This damaging effect of clutter, known as crowding, affects many aspects of visual processing (e.g., reading speed). We examined observers' processing of crowded targets in a lexical decision task, using single-character Chinese words that are compact but carry semantic meaning. Despite being unrecognizable and indistinguishable from matched nonwords, crowded prime words still generated robust semantic-priming effects on lexical decisions for test words presented in isolation. Indeed, the semantic-priming effect of crowded primes was similar to that of uncrowded primes. These findings show that the meanings of words survive crowding even when the identities of the words do not, suggesting that crowding does not prevent semantic activation, a process that may have evolved in the context of a cluttered visual environment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)



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