Why is a flamingo named as pelican and asparagus as celery? Understanding the relationship between targets and errors in a speeded picture naming task

Leonie F. Lampe*, Maria Zarifyan, Solène Hameau, Lyndsey Nickels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Speakers sometimes make word production errors, such as mistakenly saying pelican instead of flamingo. This study explored which properties of an error influence the likelihood of its selection over the target word. Analysing real-word errors in speeded picture naming, we investigated whether, relative to the target, naming errors were more typical representatives of the semantic category, were associated with more semantic features, and/or were semantically more closely related to the target than its near semantic neighbours were on average. Results indicated that naming errors tended to be more typical category representatives and possess more semantic features than the targets. Moreover, while not being the closest semantic neighbours, errors were largely near semantic neighbours of the targets. These findings suggest that typicality, number of semantic features, and semantic similarity govern activation levels in the production system, and we discuss possible mechanisms underlying these effects in the context of word production theories.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • naming errors
  • semantic variables
  • speeded picture naming
  • target-error relationship
  • word production

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