Mimicking aphasic semantic errors in normal speech production: Evidence from a novel experimental paradigm

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    Semantic errors are commonly found in semantic dementia (SD) and some forms of stroke aphasia and provide insights into semantic processing and speech production. Low error rates are found in standard picture naming tasks in normal controls. In order to increase error rates and thus provide an experimental model of aphasic performance, this study utilised a novel method- tempo picture naming. Experiment 1 showed that, compared to standard deadline naming tasks, participants made more errors on the tempo picture naming tasks. Further, RTs were longer and more errors were produced to living items than non-living items a pattern seen in both semantic dementia and semantically-impaired stroke aphasic patients. Experiment 2 showed that providing the initial phoneme as a cue enhanced performance whereas providing an incorrect phonemic cue further reduced performance. These results support the contention that the tempo picture naming paradigm reduces the time allowed for controlled semantic processing causing increased error rates. This experimental procedure would, therefore, appear to mimic the performance of aphasic patients with multi-modal semantic impairment that results from poor semantic control rather than the degradation of semantic representations observed in semantic dementia [Jefferies, E. A., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2006). Semantic impairment in stoke aphasia vs. semantic dementia: A case-series comparison. Brain, 129, 2132–2147]. Further implications for theories of semantic cognition and models of speech processing are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBrain and Language
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


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