Perceptual priming is not a necessary consequence of semantic classification of pictures

Vicki Bruce*, Derek Carson, A. Mike Burton, Andrew W. Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Four experiments investigated how repetition priming of object recognition is affected by the task performed in the prime and test phases. In Experiment 1 object recognition was tested using both vocal naming and two different semantic decision tasks (whether or not objects were manufactured, and whether or not they would be found inside the house). Some aspects of the data were inconsistent with contemporary models of object recognition. Specifically, object priming was eliminated with some combinations of prime and test tasks, and there was no evidence of perceptual (as opposed to conceptual or response) priming in either semantic classification task, even though perceptual identification of the objects is required for at least one of these tasks. Experiment 2 showed that even when perceptual demands were increased by brief presentation, the inside task showed no perceptual priming. Experiment 3 showed that the inside task did not appear to be based on conceptual priming either, as it was not primed significantly when the prime decisions were made to object labels. Experiment 4 showed that visual sensitivity could be restored to the inside task following practice on the task, supporting the suggestion that a critical factor is whether the semantic category is preformed or must be computed. The results show that the visual representational processes revealed by object priming depend crucially on the task chosen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-323
Number of pages35
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


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