No enemies in the neighborhood: Absence of inhibitory neighborhood effects in lexical decision and semantic categorization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

171 Scopus citations


The effect of neighborhood density on visual word recognition was found to be facilitatory for words but inhibitory for nonwords in 3 lexical-decision experiments. However, the facilitation virtually disappeared when the task was changed to semantic categorization (animal vs. nonanimal), despite the presence of a strong frequency effect. None of these experiments showed a consistent inhibitory effect of a higher frequency neighbor. The absence of inhibitory effects suggests that competition does not play a key role in visual word recognition. The data also suggest that the neighborhood density effect is not an access effect but is a task-dependent effect instead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-713
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this