[PS-3.23] Does brass inhibit the production of goldfish? Semantic effects in compound production: evidence from different age groups

Lorenz, A. 1 , Abdel Rahman, R. 1 , Zwitserlood, P. 2 & Regel, S. 1

1 Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
2 Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster

Semantic effects in compound production were examined in young and older speakers to test theories about the representation and processing of complex words in the mental lexicon, and to examine effects of normal ageing.
Using a picture-word-interference paradigm (PWI), effects of two related distractor conditions were compared to an unrelated condition in a picture-naming task. Related distractor words were categorically related to the compound target (carp-> goldfish), or to the first constituent of the target, exclusively (brass -> goldfish). We observed semantic interference for distractors related to the whole word, but no effects for distractors related to the first constituent. The data thus corroborate a holistic lemma representation of compounds. Furthermore, semantic inhibition effects were not affected by age in Experiment 1.
In Experiment 2, we varied input format and complexity, which might result in enhanced semantic inhibition especially in older speakers. Single pictures (e.g., of a goldfish) and picture pairs (e.g., one picture of a piece of gold, and one of a fish presented side by side) were used to elicit the same response. Again, a PWI-design was used with two semantically related distractor conditions. Both behavioural and electrophysiological data (ERP) are reported.