​Word processing

Imagine that you are presented with a series of letters and asked to decide if this series is a word or a non-word. Various aspects of the presented stimulus and the experimental context affect performance. For example, concrete words (e.g., table) are processed faster than abstract (e.g., love) words, and responding to a word is facilitated if preceded by a semantically (or otherwise) related word (e.g., the word dog preceded by cat compared to dog preceded by chair)-the priming effect.

Psychologists have long suggested that our memory is organized as a network of concepts. In this network, associated or semantically related concepts are closer than non-associated or semantically unrelated concepts. This structure of the network gives rise to the priming effect. Within such a network one can examine various features of neighborhoods; how many neighbors a word has, how dense a given neighborhood is, etc. Aside from studying the automaticity of word processing, we have been investigating various features and effects of the semantic neighborhood and how individual differences in verbal abilities modulate these effects.


Selected publications

Henik, A., Dronkers, N., Knight, R., &Osimani, A. (1993). Differential effects of semantic and identity priming in patients with left and right hemisphere lesions. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 5, 45-55.

Anaki, D., & Henik, A. (2003). Is there a "strength effect" in automatic semantic priming? Memory & Cognition, 31, 262-272.

Henik, A., Rubinsten, O., &Anaki, D. (Eds.).(2005). Word Norms in Hebrew.Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Ron-Kaplan, I., & Henik, A. (2007). Verbal ability modulates the associative neighbors effect. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 81-87.