Semantic activation of noun concepts in context

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1985 Jan;11(1):126-35. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.11.1.126.


A modified Stoop procedure was used to examine the role that context plays in guiding semantic access of unambiguous nouns in sentence contexts. The sentences either emphasized a high- or a low-dominant property of a noun that was the last word in the sentence or were control sentences. Each sentence was followed by the relevant high- or low-dominant property either immediately or after a 300-or 600-ms delay. There was significant color-naming interference (relative to control) for high-dominant properties regardless of biasing context in the immediate and delayed conditions. There was also significant color-naming interference for low-dominant properties in the immediate condition regardless of context. However, in the delayed conditions, the low-dominant properties led to color-naming interference only when preceded by sentence contexts biasing interpretation toward the low-dominant property. It was concluded that high-dominant properties function as core, or invariant, aspects of meaning and that initial semantic access is context independent.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Color Perception
  • Humans
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Reaction Time
  • Semantics*
  • Set, Psychology*