Interference from related actions in spoken word production: Behavioural and fMRI evidence

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Abstract

Few investigations of lexical access in spoken word production have investigated the cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in action naming. These are likely to be more complex than the mechanisms involved in object naming, due to the ways in which conceptual features of action words are represented. The present study employed a blocked cyclic naming paradigm to examine whether related action contexts elicit a semantic interference effect akin to that observed with categorically related objects. Participants named pictures of intransitive actions to avoid a confound with object processing. In Experiment 1, body-part related actions (e.g., running, walking, skating, hopping) were named significantly slower compared to unrelated actions (e.g., laughing, running, waving, hiding). Experiment 2 employed perfusion functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural mechanisms involved in this semantic interference effect. Compared to unrelated actions, naming related actions elicited significant perfusion signal increases in frontotemporal cortex, including bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and hippocampus, and decreases in bilateral posterior temporal, occipital and parietal cortices, including intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The findings demonstrate a role for temporoparietal cortex in conceptual-lexical processing of intransitive action knowledge during spoken word production, and support the proposed involvement of interference resolution and incremental learning mechanisms in the blocked cyclic naming paradigm.

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