Early goal-directed top-down influences in the production of speech


  • Strijkers Kristof
  • Yum Yen Na
  • Grainger Jonathan
  • Holcomb Phillip J.


  • Speech production
  • Goal-directed processing
  • Lexical access
  • ERPs
  • Categorization

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It was recently reported that the conscious intention to produce speech affects the speed with which lexical information is retrieved upon presentation of an object (Strijkers et al., 2011). The goal of the present study was to elaborate further on the role of these top-down influences in the course of planning speech behavior. In an event-related potentials (ERP) experiment, participants were required to overtly name pictures and words in one block of trials, while categorizing the same stimuli in another block of trials. The ERPs elicited by the naming task started to diverge very early on (∼170 ms) from those elicited by the semantic categorization task. Interestingly, these early ERP differences related to task intentionality were identical for pictures and words. From these results we conclude that (a) in line with Strijkers et al. (2011), goal-directed processes play a crucial role very early on in speech production, and (b) these task-driven top-down influences function at least in a domain-general manner by modulating those networks which are always relevant for the production of language, irrespective of which cortical pathways are triggered by the input.

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