Flexibility over automaticity: Separable representations for colours and words

Moran Twick, Asher Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study demonstrates that associations between colour words and the colours they denote are not mandatory. Experiments 1-3 used a go/no-go task in which participants responded to one print colour and one word and withheld response from another print colour and another word. In Experiment 1, the content of the words denoted noncolour entities. In Experiment 2 the two words denoted two colours that were different from the target print colours. In Experiment 3, the words denoted the same colours as the target print colours but each response set included incompatible print colour and word (e.g., one response to the print colour blue and the word "green" and another response to the print colour green and the word "blue"). Participants performed equally well in all the experiments. Experiment 4a used Arabic digits and words denoting numbers, two formats that are known to have shared representations. Here, participants had difficulties separating their responses to the digits and words. These results suggest that representations of words are distinct from the content that they represent, supporting the existence of distinct verbal and colour modules.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)392-414
Number of pages23
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Modularity
  • Redundancy gain
  • Stroop
  • Verbal representations
  • Visual dimensions

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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