Semantic interference in a delayed naming task: Evidence for the response exclusion hypothesis


  • Janssen Niels
  • Schirm Walter
  • Mahon Bradford Z.
  • Caramazza Alfonso

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In 2 experiments participants named pictures of common objects with superimposed distractor words. In one naming condition, the pictures and words were presented simultaneously on every trial, and participants produced the target response immediately. In the other naming condition, the presentation of the picture preceded the presentation of the distractor by 1,000 ms, and participants delayed production of their naming response until distractor word presentation. Within each naming condition, the distractor words were either semantic category coordinates of the target pictures or unrelated. Orthogonal to this manipulation of semantic relatedness, the frequency of the pictures' names was manipulated. The authors observed semantic interference effects in both the immediate and delayed naming conditions but a frequency effect only in the immediate naming condition. These data indicate that semantic interference can be observed when target picture naming latencies do not reflect the bottleneck at the level of lexical selection. In the context of other findings from the picture-word interference paradigm, the authors interpret these data as supporting the view that the semantic interference effect arises at a postlexical level of processing.

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