The mental lexicon is assumed to be a network of related lexical items. Phonologically and semantically similar words are linked together. It is assumed that activation of one lexical item can spread to related items (e.g. phonologically related or semantically related), and this spreading of activation is called priming. Phonological priming can be exemplified by the first part of the word 'bad' ('bath') priming the word 'bal' ('ball'). Semantic priming can be exemplified by the word 'cat' priming the word 'dog' (cf. crossmodal semantic priming).
- Collins, A.M & Loftus, E.F. 1975. A spreading activation theory of semantic processing, Psychological Review, 82, 407-428