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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 29, 2015

Cross-modal priming differences between native and nonnative Spanish speakers

  • Wendy Herd EMAIL logo , Joan Sereno and Allard Jongman


Training has been shown to improve American English speakers’ perception and production of the Spanish /ɾ, r, d/ contrast; however, it is unclear whether successfully trained contrasts are encoded in the lexicon. This study investigates whether learners of Spanish process the /ɾ, r, d/ contrast differently than native speakers and whether training affects processing. Using a cross-modal priming design, thirty-three Spanish learners were compared to ten native Spanish speakers. For native speakers, auditory primes with intervocalic taps (like [koɾo]) resulted in faster reaction times in response to matching visual targets (like coro) than to orthographically and phonemically similar targets (like corro and codo). American English speakers’ reaction times were not affected by the relationship between primes and targets before training. After training, trainees responded more quickly to matching targets than to mismatching /ɾ/-/r/ prime-targets (e.g., [koɾo] followed by corro) while controls’ reaction time patterns did not change. This indicates that native Spanish speakers and Spanish learners process words containing the /ɾ, r, d/ contrast differently and that improvements from training can be encoded in the lexicon.


This research was part of the first author’s dissertation, supervised by Allard Jongman and Joan Sereno and supported by the National Science Foundation (#0843653).


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Published Online: 2015-4-29
Published in Print: 2015-5-1

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton

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