Priming picture naming with a semantic task: An fMRI investigation

Shiree Heath*, Katie McMahon, Lyndsey Nickels, Anthony Angwin, Anna MacDonald, Sophia van Hees, Kori Johnson, David Copland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Prior semantic processing can enhance subsequent picture naming performance, yet the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying this effect and its longevity are unknown. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined whether different neurological mechanisms underlie short-term (within minutes) and long-term (within days) facilitation effects from a semantic task in healthy older adults. Both short- and long-term facilitated items were named significantly faster than unfacilitated items, with short-term items significantly faster than long-term items. Region of interest results identified decreased activity for long-term facilitated items compared to unfacilitated and short-term facilitated items in the mid-portion of the middle temporal gyrus, indicating lexical-semantic priming. Additionally, in the whole brain results, increased activity for short-term facilitated items was identified in regions previously linked to episodic memory and object recognition, including the right lingual gyrus (extending to the precuneus region) and the left inferior occipital gyrus (extending to the left fusiform region). These findings suggest that distinct neurocognitive mechanisms underlie short- and long-term facilitation of picture naming by a semantic task, with long-term effects driven by lexical-semantic priming and short-term effects by episodic memory and visual object recognition mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere32809
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) [2012]. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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