The Effects of Age-of-Acquisition on Lexical Decision and Naming Times

Publication Date

April 2016


Barbara Juhasz




English (United States)


Abstract Many psycholinguistic studies conducted in the past several decades have demonstrated that age-of-acquisition (AoA) is an important determinant of how quickly and accurately a person will be able to read or recognize a word later in life (see Johnston & Barry, 2006; Juhasz, 2005). Other psycholinguistic variables such as frequency, orthographic neighborhood, imageability, and familiarity, are likely also predictive of word recognition performance (e.g., Ferrand, Bonin, Meót, Augustinova, New, Pallier et al., 2008; Yarkoni, Balota, & Yap, 2008; Stadthagen-Gonzalez & Davis, 2006; Pérez, 2007). The current study collected data on subjective age of acquisition, imageability, and familiarity in a small collegiate sample. The collected scores were then compared to subjective age-of-acquisition scores obtained through the use of norms implemented in a study conducted by Kuperman and colleagues (Kuperman, Stadthagen-Gonzalez, & Brysbaert, 2012), with the specific goal of comparing early-acquired and late-acquired words. This study used newly-developed norms for calculating orthographic neighborhood and word frequency (Yarkoni et al., 2008; Brysbaert & New, 2009). Furthermore, results were compared—in the context of AoA, familiarity, and imageability—to those amassed in the literature, and lexical decision and naming accuracy and reaction times reported in the English Lexicon Project (Balota, Yap, Cortese, Hutchison, Kessler, Loftis et al., 2007) were examined for a small set of words that were matched for psycholinguistic variables. While significant effects were not observed for lexical decision tasks, a significant difference between naming time z-scores for early- and late-acquired words was observed.

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