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Language production

Sunday, October 02nd,   2011 [18:00 - 20:00]

PS_3.099 - Distractor frequency effects in picture-word interference tasks with vocal and manual responses

Hutson, J. 1 , Damian, M. 1 & Spalek, K. . 2

1 School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
2 Department of German Language and Linguistics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

A number of studies have recently reported that in picture-word interference tasks, distractors with a low frequency of occurrence interfere more with picture naming than distractors with high frequency. This finding is not straightforward to accommodate within traditional accounts of word production in which lexical access is typically conceptualised as competitive. Instead, the distractor frequency effect has been taken to support a view according to which lexical access is not competitive, and picture-word interference effects arise at a post-lexical preparation stage. Two experiments are reported which contrasted picture naming with a manual task performed on the picture name (Experiment 1: syllable judgment; Experiment 2: phoneme monitoring). In both studies, an equivalent effect of distractor frequency was observed for vocal and manual tasks, suggesting that the effect arises at a shared, abstract processing level. Consequently, the distractor frequency effect should not be interpreted as evidence for the claim that distractors have to be excluded from an articulatory response buffer before target naming can proceed.

PS_3.100 - Word sequences in the mental lexicon: the case of irreversible binomials

Arcara, G. 1 , De Marchi, C. 1 , Lacaita, G. 3 , Semenza, C. . 4, 5 , Jarema, G. 6, 7 & Mondini, S. 1, 2

1 Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
2 Figlie di San Camillo, Cremona, Italy
3 Department of Linguistics, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
4 Department of Neuroscience, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
5 I.R.C.C.S. Ospedale S.Camillo, Lido di Venezia, Italy
6 Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
7 Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Irreversible Binomials (IBs) are complex linguistic constructions consisting of two words, or constituents, conjoined by a linking element (e.g. “hit and run”). The aim of this study is to explore how IBs are represented in the mental lexicon and how their processing is influenced by transparency and by other psycholinguistic variables (familiarity, frequency, length, and conditional probability of both whole-sequences and constituents). Thirty three university students performed a reading aloud task. Experimental stimuli constisted of 60 IBs and 60 fillers. IBs were divided into 30 opaque IBs (e.g., “odds and ends”) and 30 transparent IBs (e.g. “paper and pencil”). Participants were asked to read stimuli aloud as fast as possible. Data were analyzed through Mixed effects models (Baayen, 2007). The dependent variable was the reading latency and several psycholinguistic variables were considered as predictors. Results showed that increases in word-sequence familiarity and transparency were associated with shorter reading latencies. Thus, a whole-word representation of sequences may be crucial in IB processing. Data are discussed in relation to major theories of lexical representation (e.g., Caramazza, 1997; Levelt, Roelofs, Meyer, 1999).

PS_3.101 - Conceptual planning during language production

Crowther, J.

Department of Psychology. Rice University. Houston, USA.

Several studies have reported evidence for a phrasal planning scope in sentence production, which researchers have often attributed to advanced lexical planning. However, studies manipulating lexical variables have failed to find effects beyond the first item in a phrase, suggesting incremental lexical planning. The purpose of the current study was to characterize the representational level involved in phrasal planning. In Experiment 1, subjects were presented with a prime picture to name, followed by three pictures to produce in a sentence. Although priming the first item in a phrase led to facilitation, priming the second item led to interference. In Experiment 2, subjects were presented with a preview of either the pictures or the structure to be produced in a sentence. The picture preview did not modulate phrasal planning, whereas the structural preview did. Results of the current study support the notion that phrasal planning involves conceptual, rather than lexical, planning.

PS_3.102 - General principles of sequence representation: Evidence from perseveration errors

Fischer-Baum, S. 1 & McCloskey, M. 2

1 Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
2 Department of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University

Perseverations errors, inappropriate intrusions of items from a previous trial into the current response, are observed in a variety of tasks. These errors provide a window into how the immediate past competes with current processing. Here, we analyze factors that predict which items are going to perseverate in three cognitive domains - spelling, spoken word production and verbal working memory. In each case, items from previous responses (e.g. the letter L in the written response MOTEL) intrude into subsequent responses (e.g. spelling “under” as UNDEL). A number of striking similarities were observed across the three domains. First, items occurring in a stimulus but not in the corresponding response do not perseverate into subsequent responses, whereas items occurring erroneously in a response do perseverate. Second, item perseverations are increasingly more likely with greater overlap between the current target and the previous response. Third, perseverated items tend to maintain position between the error and the previous response, specifically position defined relative to both the beginning and end of the sequence. We discuss how each of these results constrains theories of sequence representation and processing. Because similar results were found across cognitive domains, we suggest that perseverations reveal some general principles of sequential processing.

PS_3.103 - Planning messages and sentences with familiar perceptual and syntactic structures

Konopka, A. & Meyer, A.

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

If message and sentence planning are closely linked processes, planning scope may vary depending on what speakers want to say and how they say it. We compared speakers’ gaze pattern to pictures in displays eliciting sentences like “The lion and the tiger are above the basket” when speakers were a) more familiar or less familiar with the spatial layout of these displays, and b) more familiar or less familiar with the phrasal structures used in these sentences. Familiarity with spatial layout was induced by presenting prime trials with a similar or dissimilar layout of pictures (“The bell and the nail are above/below the crutch”) before the target trial, and familiarity with sentence structure was manipulated via structural priming (prime trials elicited sentences like “The bell and the nail are above the crutch” or “The bell is above the nail and the crutch”). When describing pictures on target trials, speakers looked earlier at the second object (tiger) when they were familiar with both the spatial layout and sentence structure, but speech onsets were reduced (structural priming) only when both spatial layout and sentence structure were repeated. The results show that linguistic planning is facilitated by congruence between message-level and sentence-level structure.

PS_3.104 - Pragmatic factors condition a word's pronunciation

Ernestus, M. 1, 2 , Stivers, T. 3, 2 & de Ruiter, J. 4, 2

1 Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3 Department of Sociology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
4 Faculty for Linguistics and Literary Sciences, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany

Words are often shorter and contain fewer segments in casual than in formal speech. For instance, in casual Dutch, the word <natuurlijk> 'of course' is often reduced to <tuurlijk>, or even <tuuk>. This type of pronunciation variation is generally ascribed to general mechanisms of speech production. We investigated whether it is also conditioned by pragmatic factors. We studied the acoustic characteristics of 177 tokens of Dutch <natuurlijk> and 184 tokens of Dutch <eigenlijk> 'actually', extracted from spontaneous speech corpora. We classified their Turn Constructional Units (TCUs) as constituting responses to prior TCUs or as initiating new conversational topics. We hypothesized that <natuurlijk> and <eigenlijk> are more reduced in initiating TCUs, since in these TCUs they typically convey that aspects of the turn contain old information and violate a norm of conversation. This hypothesis was supported by our data. <Natuurlijk> and <eigenlijk> are shorter in duration and in number of syllables in initiating than in responsive TCUs. Nevertheless, the syllable <na> of <natuurlijk> is more often present in initiating than in responsive TCUs. These results show that pragmatic factors condition degree and type of reduction. Psycholinguistic models of speech production have to account for interactions between pragmatics and general production mechanisms.

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