Accessing, integrating and inhibiting word meaning in poor comprehenders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined three processes crucial to reading comprehension (semantic access, integration, and inhibition) to identify causes of comprehension impairment. Poor comprehenders were compared to chronological-age controls and vocabulary-age (VA) controls. When listening to homonym primes (“bank”) versus unrelated primes, controls were faster to name pictures related to dominant (money) and subordinate (river) meanings at 250 ms interstimulus interval (ISI) but only showed dominant priming at 1,000 ms ISI, whereas poor comprehenders only showed dominant priming. When listening to subordinately biased sentences ending in homonyms (“John fished from the bank”) versus control sentences, all groups showed priming when naming subordinate (appropriate) pictures at 250 ms ISI: VA controls and poor comprehenders also showed priming when naming dominant (inappropriate) pictures. At 1,000 ms ISI, controls showed appropriate priming, whereas poor comprehenders only showed inappropriate priming. These findings suggest that poor comprehenders have difficulties accessing subordinate word meanings, which can manifest as a failure to inhibit irrelevant information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-198
JournalScientific Studies of Reading
Issue number3
Early online date21 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Scientific Studies of Reading. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

Cite this