Effects of phonological neighbourhood density and frequency in picture naming

Solène Hameau*, Britta Biedermann, Serje Robidoux, Lyndsey Nickels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Speaking involves selecting a word among co-activated words in the lexicon. The factors determining which potentially co-activated words affect the production of spoken words remain underspecified. This research investigated the influence of words that sound similar to a target word (phonological neighbours) on the picture naming latency and accuracy of young English-speaking adults. Response time analyses showed a significant interaction between the frequency of the target and the frequency of those phonological neighbours that were higher in frequency than the target. Analysis of a published picture naming dataset gave similar results. The mechanisms underlying these results were explored using computational modelling. The critical interaction observed in the human data was successfully reproduced in analyses of the output of some versions of an interactive activation model. This model featured a relatively slow rise of activation in the phonological lexicon nodes, resulting in an increase in the effect of frequency. Overall, results show that phonological neighbourhood effects are tightly related to frequency effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104248
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • phonological neighbourhood
  • spoken word production
  • frequency
  • computational modelling
  • lexical retrieval
  • picture naming


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