Is lexical selection by competition ? by Robert Hartsuiker (Ghent University)
There are several contrasting views on the mechanisms of lexical selection in language production. On one view, words compete with each other for selection, so that the time to select one word depends on the activation of competitors. This competitive view is often thought to be supported by semantic interference in picture-word tasks (name the picture, ignore the distractor word). But on another view, the time to select a word depends only on the activation of the highest activated lexical unit. This account is consistent with semantic facilitation in some versions of the picture-word task, but requires an additional mechanism to account for semantic interference effects. Our work of the last few years has tested whether this mechanism is one of self-monitoring and covert error repair. On this view, the distractor sometimes gets ahead of the picture name in production process. To prevent the inadvertent naming of the distractor, it therefore needs to be filtered out covertly, and the more difficult it is to detect and rule out the distractor, the more naming will be delayed. To test this account, we have conducted behavioral experiments and EEG experiments that manipulated parameters we suspect the self-monitoring system to be sensitive to, such as lexical status of the distractor, context (i.e., composition of list of stimuli), and even taboo status of the distractor word. Based on my review of this evidence I will argue that response exclusion by self-monitoring is a viable alternative to lexical selection by competition.