Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Primed Picture Naming within and across Languages: An ERP Investigation

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Primed Picture Naming within and across Languages: An ERP Investigation

Article excerpt

In two experiments, while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded, participants named picture targets that were preceded by masked word primes that corresponded either to the name of the picture target or to an unrelated picture name. Experiment 1 showed significant priming effects in the ERP waveforms, free from articulator artifact, starting as early as 200 msec post target onset. Possible loci of these priming effects were proposed within the framework of generic interactive activation models of word recognition and picture naming. These were grouped into three main components: object-specific structural representations, amodal semantic representations, and word-specific phonological and articulatory representations. Experiment 2 provided an initial test of the possible role of each of these components by comparing within-language repetition priming with priming from translation equivalents in bilingual participants. The early and widespread effects of noncognate translation primes in L1 on picture naming in L2 point to object-specific and amodal semantic representations as the principal loci of priming effects obtained with masked word primes and picture targets.

Over the past two decades, masked priming has been applied extensively in the study of the basic mechanisms involved in letter and word perception (Forster & Davis, 1984; Jacobs & Grainger, 1991; Segui & Grainger, 1990). Forster (1998) summarized the advantages of the masked priming technique as compared with the more conventional priming techniques that use longer prime durations and with the standard across-item comparisons that do not involve priming. Priming manipulations allow the experimenter to control for many of the confounds present in direct comparisons of different categories of stimuli, and masked priming limits the use of strategies that might develop when primes are visible and participants are aware of the priming manipulation.

Although the masked priming technique has been less extensively applied in related fields of research (e.g., object and face recognition), the methodological advantages are the same and deserve to be more fully exploited. Furthermore, the combination of different types of stimuli in the prime and target position (cross-domain priming; e.g., with words and pictures) opens up a vast perspective for research exploring the precise nature of the information processing that subtends the recognition of a particular type of stimulus (within-domain processing). In one of the first studies to apply masked priming across domains, Ferrand, Grainger, and Segui (1994) used word stimuli as primes and pictures of objects as targets in a picture- naming study (for a more recent application of this paradigm, see Finkbeiner & Caramazza, 2006). Ferrand et al. found robust facilitation from primes that were the object's name, as compared with that from different-name primes, and this facilitatory priming was of the same magnitude for target objects with either low- or high-frequency names. These results therefore suggest that picture naming recruits representations that are activated by briefly presented, pattern-masked word stimuli. Among the possible candidates for such cross-domain interactions are amodal semantic representations and phonological representations that correspond to the name of the target picture.

Since the picture-naming task is one of the most popular behavioral measures of single-word production (Levelt, Roelofs, & Meyer, 1999), the results of Ferrand et al.'s (1994) study point to a potential application of this methodology in the study of language production. The present study builds on Ferrand et al.'s pioneering work in combining masked priming and picture naming and adds the recording of event-related potentials (ERPs). Previous studies using ERPs in the masked priming paradigm have demonstrated that this technique can provide valuable additional information about the relative timing of the underlying processes (e. …

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