Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 37–49 | Cite as

Is the Motor or the Garage More Important to the Car? The Difference Between Semantic Associations in Single Word and Sentence Production

  • Juliane Muehlhaus
  • Stefan Heim
  • Olga Sachs
  • Frank Schneider
  • Ute Habel
  • Katharina Sass


The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of part-whole (e.g., car-motor) and functional associations (e.g., car-garage) on single word (Experiment 1) and sentence production (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, a classical picture-word task was used. In Experiment 2, the same stimuli and distractors were embedded into a sentence. The relation between target and distractor was either part-whole, functional or unrelated. At single word level, part-whole and functional relations facilitate naming. Additionally, the facilitation effect was stronger for part-whole in comparison to functional associations. During sentence production, facilitation shifted to interference. The difference between both relations disappeared. The findings of the different effects between functional and part-whole associations depend on the length of utterances and highlight the divergent impact of associations. The differences between part-whole and functional associations in single word production might reflect a differential organization of associative links at the conceptual level. In contrast, during sentence production the syntactic processing at the lexical level seem to be more important than types of semantic associations at the conceptual level.


Picture-word interference paradigm Semantic relation Speech production 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliane Muehlhaus
    • 1
    • 3
  • Stefan Heim
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Olga Sachs
    • 4
  • Frank Schneider
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ute Habel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Katharina Sass
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Medical SchoolRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine (INM-1)Research Centre JülichJülichGermany
  3. 3.JARA, Translational Brain MedicineAachenGermany
  4. 4.Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSECambridgeUSA
  5. 5.Section Neurological Cognition Research, Department of Neurology, Medical SchoolRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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