Nottingham Trent Univ., Nottingham NG11 8NS, UK
The aim of this paper is to test the hypothesis that broad phonetic categories [V. Zue, Proc. IEEE 73, 1602--1615 (1985)] can act as a contact representation for lexical access. The results of this work will be considered in terms of implications for the neighborhood activation model. The technique used in this experiment was ``phonetic priming'' [A. Jongman and J. Sereno, Working Papers Cornell Phon. Lab. 7, 151--176 (1992)]. Subjects were asked to make a lexical decision about a target word which was preceded by a subphonemic prime (either an ambiguous fricative or an ambiguous stop). The prime either matched or mismatched the manner of articulation of the initial phoneme of the target. Reaction time results showed an interaction between initial and prime, so that when these matched, the subjects' reaction time was inhibited. Furthermore the neighborhood effect [Goldinger et al., J. Memory Lang. 28, 501--518 (1989)], that words from a low-density similarity neighborhood are recognized faster than words from a high-density neighborhood, was enhanced by the presence of the phonetically related prime. These results suggest that broad phonetic features may activate lexical candidates.