Age of acquisition effects on the decomposition of compound words

M.M. Elsherif, J.C. Catling

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Age of acquisition (AoA) is a measure of learning experience and a strong predictor of lexical retrieval. The integrated account predicts that the AoA effect should be shown in the early processes of word recognition and the AoA effect should increase in tasks requiring greater semantic processing. The present study investigates the integrated account in compound words, which differ from monomorphemic words regarding ease of mapping and semantic processes in lexical retrieval. Forty-eight participants completed a compound lexeme segmentation (CLS) task, in which participants named either the head or modifier depending on the number above the compound word, to establish how semantics are involved in processing the head and the modifier. The results demonstrated that semantics influenced the naming of the modifier to a greater extent than the head, with the AoA effect being larger in the modifier than the head. This indicates that the AoA effect has multiple origins.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Early online date9 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2021


  • Age of acquisition
  • compound lexeme segmentation
  • compound word
  • lexical retrieval
  • morphology
  • semantics


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