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Perfusion fMRI evidence for priming of shared feature-to-lexical connections during cumulative semantic interference in spoken word production

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Howard


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The speed at which target pictures are named increases monotonically as a function of prior retrieval of other exemplars of the same semantic category and is unaffected by the number of intervening items. This cumulative semantic interference effect is generally attributed to three mechanisms: shared feature activation, priming and lexical-level selection. However, at least two additional mechanisms have been proposed: (1) a 'booster' to amplify lexical-level activation and (2) retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF). In a perfusion functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) experiment, we tested hypotheses concerning the involvement of all five mechanisms. Our results demonstrate that the cumulative interference effect is associated with perfusion signal changes in the left perirhinal and middle temporal cortices that increase monotonically according to the ordinal position of exemplars being named. The left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) also showed significant perfusion signal changes across ordinal presentations; however, these responses did not conform to a monotonically increasing function. None of the cerebral regions linked with RIF in prior neuroimaging and modelling studies showed significant effects. This might be due to methodological differences between the RIF paradigm and continuous naming as the latter does not involve practicing particular information. We interpret the results as indicating priming of shared features and lexical-level selection mechanisms contribute to the cumulative interference effect, while adding noise to a booster mechanism could account for the pattern of responses observed in the LIFG.

Publication metadata

Author(s): de Zubicaray G, McMahon K, Howard D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience

Year: 2015

Volume: 30

Issue: 3

Pages: 261-272

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Online publication date: 16/10/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 2327-3798

ISSN (electronic): 2327-3801

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/01690965.2013.848990


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Funder referenceFunder name
DP1092619Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant
FT0991634ARC Future Fellowship