Cross-language facilitation, semantic blindness, and the relation between language and memory: A reply to Altarriba and Soltano

Donald G. MacKay, Lise Abrams, Manissa J. Pedroza, Michelle Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


This comment corrects some inaccuracies, points to some methodological problems, and makes three substantive observations regarding the Altarriba and Soltano (1996) article. First, token individuation theory does not explain what is new and interesting in the Altarriba and Soltano data, namely cross-language semantic facilitation in lists and a list-sentence effect, that is, a large difference in the effect of semantic repetition when identical translation equivalents occurred in sentences versus lists. Second, Altarriba and Soltano's small and nonsignificant semantic blindness effect for translation equivalents in split-language sentences is attributable to the peculiar nature of their materials, procedures, analyses, and experimental design. These problems nullify their conclusion that semantic blindness does not occur, and we discuss several clear cases where semantic blindness has been demonstrated. Finally, we suggest an explanation for Altarriba and Soltano's unexplained effects (cross-language facilitation and the list-sentence effect) and show why these effects are important for the general issue of relations between language and memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-718
Number of pages7
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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