Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joseph Brown

Second Advisor

Thomas Lorsbach

Third Advisor

Kenneth Deffenbacher


According to the multistage activation model of visual word recognition (Besner & Smith, 1992a, 1992b; Borowsky & Besner, 1993), during visual word recognition, activation can spread from semantic to orthographic representations via a feedback mechanism. Two experiments were conducted in order to test directly whether or not such feedback occurs, and if so, under what conditions. In order to directly measure feedback, a mediated priming paradigm was utilized. In this paradigm, participants named aloud targets that were preceded either by a semantically related prime (e.g., dog - cat! or by a prime that is related to the target via a mediating word (e.g., dog - (cat) - vat). In this case the mediating word cat is semantically related to the prime, and is both orthographically and phonologically related to the target. Direct evidence of activational feedback was obtained in the form of mediated inhibition effects which were found in the presence of semantic priming effects. These mediated inhibition effects are consistent with activational feedback, thus, they support the multistage activation model of visual word recognition and not the activation-verification model (Paap, Newsome, McDonald, & Schvaneveldt, 1982; Paap, McDonald, Schvaneveldt & Noel, 1987).


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Masters of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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