A diffusion model account of the lexical decision task

Psychol Rev. 2004 Jan;111(1):159-82. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.111.1.159.


The diffusion model for 2-choice decisions (R. Ratcliff, 1978) was applied to data from lexical decision experiments in which word frequency, proportion of high- versus low-frequency words, and type of nonword were manipulated. The model gave a good account of all of the dependent variables--accuracy, correct and error response times, and their distributions--and provided a description of how the component processes involved in the lexical decision task were affected by experimental variables. All of the variables investigated affected the rate at which information was accumulated from the stimuli--called drift rate in the model. The different drift rates observed for the various classes of stimuli can all be explained by a 2-dimensional signal-detection representation of stimulus information. The authors discuss how this representation and the diffusion model's decision process might be integrated with current models of lexical access.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Problem Solving
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading*
  • Semantics*