Automatic vs. controlled processes in semantic priming - Differentiation by event-related potentials

Universitaet Heidelberg, Psychiatrische Klinik, Heidelberg, Germany.
International Journal of Psychophysiology (Impact Factor: 2.88). 07/2002; 44(3):197-218. DOI: 10.1016/S0167-8760(01)00202-1
Source: PubMed


Semantic network models propose that automatic (e.g. spreading activation) and controlled processes are involved in semantic priming. Behavioural studies propose that the influence of each of these processes depends on the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). To investigate this hypothesis with a more sensitive method, we applied high-resolution event-related potential (ERP) measures to a word-pseudoword lexical decision task that contained direct, indirect, and non-related prime-target pairs. SOAs consisted of 150 or 700 ms. The results showed that independently of SOA, increasing semantic distance prolonged reaction times and enlarged N400 amplitudes. Furthermore, the word-pseudoword decision evoked a parieto-central late positive complex (LPC respectively delayed P300), which was sensitive for semantic relatedness in the short SOA only. In addition, we found two early frontal components: a P250 in the short SOA only and a N310 sensitive to semantic relatedness more prominent in the short SOA. We conclude that ERP-differences between both SOAs indicate two separate processes: (1) an access to semantic memory, which is facilitated by spreading activation in the short SOA only; and (2) an SOA-independent, controlled process, which integrates prime and target words into a semantic context.

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    • "Increasing the SOA length has been shown to augment the magnitude of the N400 component (Anderson & Holcomb, 1995; Hill et al., 2005), to modulate its distribution and timing (Anderson & Holcomb, 1995), or to have different effects depending on the ERP component (Franklin et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2002). In Hill et al. (2002), the N400 effect was obtained at both short and long SOAs, while a frontally distributed early negativity and a posteriorly distributed late component were found only at the short SOA. "
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    ABSTRACT: Both automatic and controlled mechanisms have been shown to contribute to the magnitude of the N400 priming effect in adults. It has been proposed that at short stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs), automatic processes are engaged, while at long SOAs, controlled processes are activated. Here, we explored whether the magnitude of event-related potentials (ERPs) in 18-month-old children are SOA-dependent to further understand the developmental mechanisms underlying semantic priming during early language acquisition. Children were exposed to an auditory semantic priming task in two invariant SOA conditions (1000 ms and 1600 ms). The results showed that the amplitudes of N2, N400 and late posterior negativity (LPN) components were modulated by semantic relatedness, but only those of N2 and LPN were modulated by the SOA length. The amplitudes of the frontally distributed N2 were larger at long than at short SOAs, while the posteriorly distributed LPN was larger over the right hemisphere at the short SOA and more pronounced over the left hemisphere at the long SOA. These findings suggest that both automatic and controlled processes contribute to priming effects in the developing brain, but neural resources underlying these processes might differ.
    Journal of Neurolinguistics 02/2015; 35. DOI:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2015.01.003 · 1.49 Impact Factor
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    • "Its estimated sources were mostly located in the left DLPFC (inferior frontal gyrus) and the right fusiform gyrus (see Fig. 4). While early studies described this ERP component as a marker of syntactic violation (Friederici and Meyer, 2004), recent studies challenged this interpretation by showing LPC in response to semantic violations or anomalies in the absence of any syntactic violation (Grieder et al., 2012; Hill et al., 2002). In addition, a LPC could be recorded in response to various manipulations of verbal semantics such as inversion of causality (e.g. "
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    Neuropsychologia 01/2015; 66:279–292. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.10.014 · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    • "Based on previous ERP priming studies (Kiefer, Weisbrod, Kern, Maier, & Spitzer, 1998; Weisbrod et al., 1999), we expected priming effects for related conditions, and that the N400 elicited by unrelated prime-target pairs would be larger and more negative than the N400 elicited by related pairs. However, prime–target pairs that make up productive relationships should need additional resources because of the external association between them, such as access to semantic memory facilitated by spreading activation, which would be reflected in the later ERP effect (Chen et al., 2013; Hill et al., 2002). "
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