Auditory context effects in picture naming investigated with event-related fMRI.Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2009 Sep; 9(3):260-9.CA
Naming an object entails a number of processing stages, including retrieval of a target lexical concept and encoding of its phonological word form. We investigated these stages using the picture-word interference task in an fMRI experiment. Participants named target pictures in the presence of auditorily presented semantically related, phonologically related, or unrelated distractor words or in isolation. We observed BOLD signal changes in left-hemisphere regions associated with lexical-conceptual and phonological processing, including the mid-to-posterior lateral temporal cortex. However, these BOLD responses manifested as signal reductions for all distractor conditions relative to naming alone. Compared with unrelated words, phonologically related distractors showed further signal reductions, whereas only the pars orbitalis of the left inferior frontal cortex showed a selective reduction in response in the semantic condition. We interpret these findings as indicating that the word forms of lexical competitors are phonologically encoded and that competition during lexical selection is reduced by phonologically related distractors. Since the extended nature of auditory presentation requires a large portion of a word to be presented before its meaning is accessed, we attribute the BOLD signal reductions observed for semantically related and unrelated words to lateral inhibition mechanisms engaged after target name selection has occurred, as has been proposed in some production models.