Institute of Language, Communication and the Brain & Aix-Marseille University, Laboratoire Parole et Langage, Aix-en-Provence
Lexical-semantics in language production
Language allows us to share our experiences, thoughts or knowledge with one another, for instance through speaking. At the basis of this ability are mental representations of objects, actions, people and more abstract entities. Speaking thus requires to transform these mental representations into articulated speech sounds through the selection of words. In this talk I will use EEG data obtained in picture naming experiments to argue that a paradigmatic shift from referential (picture) to inferential (definition) naming is required to gain insight into what semantic information is retrieved during speech planning. I will also illustrate that, in contrast to what was initially thought in language production, lexical-semantic encoding undergoes quantitative and qualitative changes across the lifespan. Both lines of research converge to the need for a closer investigation of lexical-semantic processes underlying language production (e.g. the dynamics of planning abstract words) and explore to what extent development and aging constrain how we represent and retrieve semantic knowledge.