Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Hurley, Robert

Subject Headings

Cognitive Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Psychology


When participants are listening to the same words spoken by different talkers, two types of priming are possible: repetition priming and talker-specific priming. Repetition priming refers to the exposure of a stimulus improving responses to a subsequent exposure. Talker-specific priming refers to the exposure of words spoken by same talkers improving responses relative to those same words spoken by different talkers. There are conflicting theories regarding whether talker-specific priming should be observed. Abstract representational theories suggest that episodic details (e.g., talker identity) are not stored in the mental lexicon, while episodic theories of the lexicon posit that lexical representations include episodic details. According to the time-course hypothesis, the mental lexicon includes both types of representations, and abstract representations are accessed earlier than episodic representations. In the present experiment, long-term priming in spoken word recognition was tested using a technique that is particularly well-suited for answering questions about timing: event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants heard words spoken by two different talkers in each of two separate blocks. Stimuli in the second block consisted of three different priming conditions, which are described in relation to what participants heard in the first block: new, unprimed, words (control), repeated words spoken by the same talker (match), and repeated words spoken by different talkers (mismatch). Evidence for long-term repetition priming was obtained in reaction times and accuracy. Electrophysiological evidence of repetition priming was obtained in low frequency words. Talker-specific priming effects were observed in accuracy, with more accurate responses in the match condition than in the mismatch condition, consistent with episodic representational theories. However, there was no evidence of talker-specific priming in the ERP data, which, when considered alone, is consistent with abstract representational theories. The current results provide the first physiological evidence (ERPs) of long-term repetition priming in spoken word recognition, setting the stage for future empirical investigations.