Developing lexical competition resolution mechanisms through reading experience

Ana B Areas da Luz Fontes, University of Texas at El Paso


The goal of the present study was to investigate whether competition resolution mechanisms are improved throughout a student’s college years. For this purpose, I bilingual participants with a range in the number of college credits completed (e.g., freshmen to seniors) were recruited. Participants were presented with sentences that biased the less frequent, or subordinate meaning of an ambiguous word (e.g., novel, fast) (e.g., novel: something new; fast: to not eat). The ambiguous word was either a Spanish-English cognate (e.g., novel/novela) or a noncognate control (e.g., fast). These sentences were followed by target words that, on critical trials, were related to the contextually-irrelevant, dominant meaning (e.g., BOOK, SPEED). The participants’ task was to decide whether the target word is related to the sentence (thus requiring a “no” response on critical trials). The results of the present study suggest that number of credits completed alone does not influence the development of lexical disambiguation skills. Instead, language proficiency and working memory capacity were found to be predictors of lexical competition resolution.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Areas da Luz Fontes, Ana B, "Developing lexical competition resolution mechanisms through reading experience" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1461139.