Effects of inter-item lag on word repetition: an event-related potential study

Psychophysiology. 1991 May;28(3):307-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1991.tb02200.x.


Prior exposure to a word can greatly facilitate performance to subsequent presentations of that word. ERP studies have shown that this facilitation is associated with an attenuation of a negative peak normally occurring around 400 ms poststimulus. Recent studies have interpreted this repetition effect as reflecting either lexical access or episodic memory mechanisms. However, there is now increasing evidence that neither of the above mechanisms alone can fully account for repetition effects. The present experiment recorded ERPs to immediate and delayed word repetition during a lexical decision task in order to investigate the time-course of ERP repetition effects. Immediate repetition was found to produce greater response facilitation than delayed repetition. The ERP waveforms of both immediate and delayed word repetition diverged from that of initial word presentation at approximately 300 ms poststimulus. The waveforms for repeated words separated around 400 ms poststimulus with immediate repetition showing a more rapid resolution of negativity and earlier late positivity than delayed repetition. It is suggested that the negativity may reflect processes involved in the overall activation contributing to word recognition, whereas the late positivity may be related to the repetition of stimulus categorization and decision processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*