The effect of lexical status on the time course of repetition priming was examined in an auditory lexical decision task. Words and nonwords were repeated at lags of 0, 1, 4, and 8 items (Experiment 1A) and 0, 2, 4, and 8 items (Experiment lB). The pattern of repetition effects differed for words and nonwords in that repetition priming for nonwords at lag 0 was significantly greater than for words. The magnitude of this effect decreased when one or more items intervened. A second experiment, replicating Experiment 1A with visual presentation, clarified that the greater magnitude of repetition priming for nonwords at lag 0 is unique to the auditory modality. This finding suggests that in the course of forming a stable perceptual representation, the details of the acoustic/phonological information of an auditory stimulus are more readily available for nonwords than for words. The capacity to carry this phonological information is limited, however, and can only be maintained until another stimulus is encountered.
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