Articulatory influences in Picture-Word Interference

Drake, E. , Seidler, L. , Kanwal, J. & Corley, M.

PPLS, University of Edinburgh

Picture word interference findings have contributed greatly to the development of models of speech production. Traditionally, effects have been thought to arise prior to, and independent from, articulatory execution. This interpretation has been thrown into question by theoretical developments within the PWI literature (e.g., Mahon et al., 2007) and evidence of cascade from phonological to articulatory levels (e.g., McMillan & Corley, 2010).

Ultrasound articulatory imaging offers an opportunity to directly address this issue, as it allows observation of articulator movement during the response latency period. We used this approach to investigate whether the presence of a written distractor elicits interference at an articulatory level, and whether this is modulated by surface form overlap between the picture name and distractor word. Articulator movement during the response latency period was compared to that in the control condition (picture presented without distractor). We observed greater movement (i.e., interference) when the distractor word and picture name differed, but not when the two matched. Interference was reduced when picture name and distractor overlapped at word onset (e.g., CAP-can) but not when overlap occurred word finally. This suggests that phonological facilitation effects observed in the PWI paradigm may encompass an articulatory component.