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Language production

Friday, September 30th,   2011 [17:20 - 19:20]

PS_1.109 - Individual differences in picture naming speed: Contribution of executive control

Shao, Z. 1 , Roelofs, A. 2 & Meyer, A. 1, 3

1 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
2 Radboud University Nijmegen, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
3 Department of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK.

Speakers clearly differ in how quickly they can retrieve words from the mental lexicon, but little is known about the sources of this variability. The present study investigated the relationship between speakers’ executive control abilities and their speed of picture naming. In two experiments, adult speakers of British English named line drawings of objects and actions. Three main components of executive control - updating, shifting of attention, and inhibiting - were assessed using the operation-span, number-letter shifting, and stop-signal task, respectively (see Myake et al.,2000 ). Reaction times (RT) to action and object pictures were highly correlated. Ex-Gaussian analyses of the RT distributions showed that the speakers’ updating scores correlated with the tau parameter of the RT distributions, i.e. predicted the proportions of slow responses in action and object naming. The inhibiting scores correlated with the mean RTs, whereas the scores obtained in the number-letter shifting task were uncorrelated to the RTs. These results indicate that the executive control abilities of updating and inhibiting contribute to the speed of naming objects and actions. Theories of word production may require modification to take account of these findings.

PS_1.110 - The Distractor Frequency effect: An overt naming ERP study

Navarrete, E. , Sessa, P. , Mulatti, C. & Dell'Acqua, R.

University of Padova

In the context of a color naming task, the Distractor Frequency effect refers to the phenomenon of longer latencies for low-frequency than for high-frequency distractor words (Burt, 2002). It remains unclear whether this effect has its locus at lexical or post-lexical stages. This would have important implications for models of spoken word production (Miozzo & Caramazza, 2003). Using the ERPs technique we explored the time-course of the Distractor Frequency effect in comparison to the Frequency effect in word reading and the Stroop effect. We monitored two time windows corresponding to two processing stages: 180-250 ms (lexical access), 300-500 ms (phonological encoding). In the reading task, occipito-parietal ERPs at 180-250 ms were modulated as a function of frequency with low-frequency words producing a negative shift relative to high-frequency words (replicating Cuetos et al., 2009). In the color naming task, fronto-central ERPs at 300-500 ms were characterized by a negative shift for low-frequency distractors relative to high-frequency distractors. Replicating previous findings (Liotti et al., 2000), during this same later interval incongruent trials produced a negative shift relative to congruent trials. These results are discussed in relation to lexical and post-lexical accounts of the Distractor Frequency effect.

PS_1.111 - Phonological advance planning in sentence production: The case of the verb

Jescheniak, J. D. 1 , Oppermann, F. 1 , Schriefers, H. 2 , Klaus, J. 1 & Berwig, M. 1

1 University of Leipzig
2 Radboud University, Nijmegen

In a set of three picture-word interference experiments we measured the phonological activation of verbs produced in isolation and in sentence contexts. Distractors that were phonologically related to the verb affected speech onset latencies in both verb production and sentence production, but in different ways. In verb production, there was substantial facilitation. In sentence production, the effect was attenuated and eventually turned into interference. These data show that the verb is phonologically activated before speech onset during sentence production. In addition, the modulation of the phonological effect as a function of utterance format provides further evidence for models of phonological encoding of complex utterances that assume a serial position coding in terms of a graded activation pattern (e.g., Dell, 1986; Jescheniak, Schriefers, & Hantsch, 2003).

PS_1.112 - The production of regular and sub-regular verbal forms in Italian

Amore, V. & Laudanna, A.

Department of Communication Sciences. University of Salerno. Salerno, Italy.

The verbal morphology of Italian includes both idiosyncratic irregular phenomena and sub-regular patterns, shared by families of morpho-phonologically similar verbs. We carried out one experiment of production of inflected verbal forms in sentence contexts, by employing regular and sub-regular verbs of Italian 2nd and 3rd conjugations. The experiment was aimed at verifying whether the production of regular and sub-regular verb forms is influenced by phonological similarity to other existing verbs. For each regular verb, a morpho-phonologically similar sub-regular verb was selected (e.g., the regular verb DEFINIRE (to define), was matched with the sub-regular PROVENIRE (to come from)). A control list of regular verbal forms not similar to other sub-regular verbs (e.g. COMPIERE (to carry out)) was created. The results showed slower reaction times on sub-regular verbs than on regular ones, which, in turn, were slower than control verbs. We hypothesize that the predictability of inflectional patterns depends both on their regularity and on the internal consistency of verbs belonging to the same morpho-phonological family.

PS_1.113 - Plural dominance effects in picture naming for language-impaired and unimpaired speakers: a comparison

Biedermann, B. 1 , Lorenz, A. 2 , Beyersmann, L. 1 , Schiller, N. 3 & Nickels, L. 1

1 ARC Centre of Excellence in in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
2 Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Germany
3 Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, The Netherlands

This study looks at the effect of frequency on plural processing. Plural-dominant plural forms (e.g. ‘ears’, ‘mice’) are higher in frequency compared to their singular forms (‘ear’, ‘mouse’), whereas singular-dominant plural forms (e.g. ‘clocks’) are lower in frequency compared to their singular forms. While plural dominance effects have been found in comprehension tasks (such as lexical decision) in healthy speakers, production tasks such as picture naming have been neglected to date as a tool of investigation. We explored the effect of plural dominance by comparing picture naming performance from brain-impaired with unimpaired speakers, and relating the outcome to current theories of morphological processing. Two Australian-English men with aphasia and 40 healthy, native English speakers named sets of pictures corresponding to plural-dominant and singular-dominant nouns, matched for frequency, name agreement, age of acquisition, etc. Both people with aphasia showed a significant plural advantage in naming accuracy for the plural-dominant plural stimuli compared to their singulars. In contrast, the healthy speakers exhibited only a trend for faster production times for plural-dominant plurals compared to their singulars. Additional analyses (mixed modeling) will be reported and the issue of controlling for recognition time in picture naming studies will be discussed.

PS_1.114 - Grammatical and conceptual gender in the selection of independent gender features

Finocchiaro, C. 1, 2 & Nevins, A. 3

1 Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC), Università degli Studi di Trento, Trento, Italy
2 Department of Education and Cognitive Science (DiSCoF), Università degli Studi di Trento, Trento, Italy
3 Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, London UK

The research on the selection of grammatical gender has been mostly concentrated on single words or words in agreement, often ignoring the impact of conceptual gender. The objective of the present study is to explore the mechanism of gender selection for gender-marked elements that are not in agreement; and to verify whether the possible benefit of sharing gender is different for those entities that are also marked for conceptual gender. We elicited the production of sentences with direct and indirect Italian clitic objects (e.g., gliela porta ‘to her it:FEM, [he/she] brings’) in response to strings of visually presented words. We manipulated the gender of the direct and indirect object (masc vs. fem), and the animacy of the indirect object (animate, e.g., “to the sister” vs. inanimate, e.g., “to the shop”). Results showed a significant effect of gender congruency: gender-congruent trials were more accurate and faster than gender-incongruent trials. In addition, the effect of congruency tended to be larger for animate trials than for inanimate trials (RTs analysis only). These findings may suggest that (1) the gender selection mechanism is sensitive to all the values of internal verbal arguments; (2) conceptually motivated gender may “intrude” onto the selection mechanism.

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