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Comparing Electrophysiological Correlates of Word Production in Immediate and Delayed Naming Through the Analysis of Word Age of Acquisition Effects

Abstract

Most EEG studies analysing speech production with event related brain potential (ERP) have adopted silent metalinguistic tasks or delayed or tacit picture naming in order to avoid possible artefacts during motor preparation. A central issue in the interpretation of these results is whether the processes involved in those tasks are comparable to those involved in overt speech production. In the present study we addressed a methodological issue about the integration of stimulus-aligned and response-aligned ERPs in immediate overt picture naming in comparison to delayed production, coupled with a theoretical point on the effect of word Age of Acquisition (AoA). High density EEG recordings were used and waveform analyses and spatio-temporal segmentation were combined on stimulus-aligned and response-aligned ERPs. The same sequence and duration of topographic maps appeared in the immediate and delayed production until around 350 ms after picture onset, revealing similar encoding processes until the beginning of phonological encoding, but modulations linked to word AoA were only observed in the immediate production. Considering stimulus-aligned and response-aligned ERPs together allowed to identify that a stable topography starting around 350 ms lasts 30 ms longer for late-acquired than for early-acquired words. This difference falls within the time-window of phonological encoding and its modulation can be linked to the longer production latencies for late-acquired words.

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Notes

  1. Zevin and Seidenberg (2002) raised important concerns regarding to the way these two variables (lexical frequency and AoA) might be confused and made specific suggestions about their operationalisation. For lexical frequency they recommended the use of cumulative frequency (the frequency of word use throughout the life span, from childhood to adulthood): for AoA they suggested to use frequency trajectory measures instead of the age at which a speaker learns a specific word. Frequency trajectory codes AoA in terms of the variation of frequencies throughout the life span.

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Acknowledgment

This research was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation grant no. PP001-118969/1. The Cartool software (http://brainmapping.unige.ch/Cartool.php) has been programmed by Denis Brunet, from the Functional Brain Mapping Laboratory, Geneva, Switzerland, and is supported by the Center for Biomedical Imaging (CIBM) of Geneva and Lausanne. The authors thank Violaine Michel for her help with data acquisition and pre-analysis, as well as Christoph Michel for his comments on a previous version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marina Laganaro.

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Laganaro, M., Perret, C. Comparing Electrophysiological Correlates of Word Production in Immediate and Delayed Naming Through the Analysis of Word Age of Acquisition Effects. Brain Topogr 24, 19–29 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10548-010-0162-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10548-010-0162-x

Keywords

  • ERP
  • Language production
  • Picture naming
  • Age of acquisition