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Dr. Erin M. Buchanan of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology faculty recently presented the Semantic Priming Across Many Languages or SPAML project at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society – an international conference held in Boston, MA for cognitive psychologists.

The presentation focused on a global, multi-site research project in coordination with the Psychological Science Accelerator (PSA). The PSA is an international research organization of psychological labs with over 1000 members representing over 80 countries. The PSA selected the research project as its 7th research project and supports with translation and data collection assistance. The PSA has an excellent resume of published work including papers in Nature Human Behavior, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and more. The PSA focuses on diversifying the populations, languages, cultures, and researchers involved in scientific studies.

To achieve this goal, Dr. Buchanan and the SPAML team have put together a registered report – a research paper that is accepted prior to data collection – that examines semantic priming across multiple languages and cultures. Semantic priming occurs when two related words occur together which enables a person to process the second word faster than if that word was not seen with something related. For example, a person reads cat faster when dog occurs first, rather than something unrelated like spoon.

As part of their accepted paper at Nature Human Behavior, the team will collect data in at least ten languages including both Latin script languages (like English, German) and non-Latin based languages (like Japanese, Korean, Russian), and the research team includes a diversity of individuals. The presentation showed off the preliminary results from six languages on the project which was supported by ZPID and Harrisburg University for data collection. This project uses state of the art natural language processing computational techniques to select the words shown to participants, along with an adaptive algorithm to optimize data collection. The project is expected to finish within the next two years.

Watch the presentation:

Read the research paper: ZPID:



 Dr. Buchanan is Professor of Cognitive Analytics at Harrisburg University.


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