Event Abstract

Preserved cumulative semantic interference despite amnesia

  • 1 Bangor University, Psychology, United Kingdom
  • 2 Rice University, Psychology, United States
  • 3 Macquarie University, Australia

Preserved cumulative semantic interference despite amnesia Introduction Recent theory is converging on a role for implicit incremental learning in continually adapting and maintaining the language production system (e.g. Chang, Dell, & Bock, 2006; Dell, Reed, Adams, & Meyer, 2000; Oppenheim, Dell, & Schwartz, 2007, 2010). But because language use is memorable, it is difficult to disentangle contributions of implicit learning from explicit memory from common experimental effects. Studies of patients with hippocampal damage–and resulting explicit memory impairments–therefore provide a unique window onto processes that underlie purported effects of implicit learning in language. One current battleground for the implicit/explicit debate concerns the cumulative semantic interference elicited by blocked-cyclic picture naming (see Oppenheim et al., 2010, for a review). When people repeatedly name pictures from a single category (e.g. RABBIT, GERBIL, HAMSTER), they become slower and more error-prone, compared to a multi-category baseline (e.g. STAPLER, PECAN, HAMSTER). One prominent account (Oppenheim et al, 2010) proposes that this interference reflects implicit learning in the mappings from semantic features to words: naming a ‘hamster’ strengthens the connection to hamster from a shared ‘rodent’ feature, and weakens the connections to ‘gerbil’ and ‘rabbit’. But recent work challenges this implicit learning account by empirically associating cumulative semantic interference in blocked cyclic naming with increased left hippocampal activation (de Zubicaray, Johnson, Howard, & McMahon, 2014). The question here is whether that hippocampal activity – indexing explicit memory processes –is actually the source of the behaviorally observed interference. We therfore consider blocked-cyclic naming data (and other tasks) from a patient with left hippocampal damage. Methods WRP, a 52-year old right-handed male, four year post-HSVE has a LaTL lesion with destruction of the temporal pole, extending to medial temporal, amygdala and hippocampus and atypical connectivity particularly involving the uncinate fasciculas. No evidence of either cortical or white matter damage in the right hemisphere. Previous work with WRP revealed a mild/moderate category-specific semantic deficit (Roberts et al., 2012). This study focuses on blocked-cyclic-picture-naming (BCN), -word-to-picture-matching (WPM), and -picture-picture-matching (PPM). Results As predicted by Oppenheim et al’s (2010) implicit incremental learning account, WRP’s BCN RTs demonstrated strong (and significant) repetition priming and semantic blocking effects (Figure 1). Similar to typical results from neurally intact undergraduates, WRP took longer to name pictures presented in semantically homogeneous blocks than in heterogeneous blocks, an effect that increased with each cycle. This result challenges accounts that ascribe cumulative semantic interference in this task to explicit memory mechanisms, instead suggesting that the effect has the sort of implicit learning bases that are typically spared in hippocampal amnesia.

Figure 1


Chang, F., Dell, G. S., & Bock, J. K. (2006). Becoming syntactic. Psychological Review, 113(2), 234–272.
De Zubicaray, G., Johnson, K., Howard, D., & McMahon, K. (2014). A perfusion fMRI investigation of thematic and categorical context effects in the spoken production of object names. Cortex, 54, 135–49.
Dell, G. S., Reed, K. D., Adams, D. R., & Meyer, A. S. (2000). Speech errors, phonotactic constraints, and implicit learning: A study of the role of experience in language production. JEP:LMC, 26(6), 1355–1367.
Oppenheim, G. M., Dell, G. S., & Schwartz, M. F. (2007). Cumulative semantic interference as learning. Brain and Language, 103(1-2), 175–176.
Oppenheim, G. M., Dell, G. S., & Schwartz, M. F. (2010). The dark side of incremental learning: a model of cumulative semantic interference during lexical access in speech production. Cognition, 114(2), 227–252.

Keywords: Language production, word production, Incremental Learning, Amnesia, Memory

Conference: Academy of Aphasia 53rd Annual Meeting, Tucson, United States, 18 Oct - 20 Oct, 2015.

Presentation Type: Poster

Topic: Not student first author

Citation: Oppenheim GM, Tainturier M and Barr P (2015). Preserved cumulative semantic interference despite amnesia. Front. Psychol. Conference Abstract: Academy of Aphasia 53rd Annual Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2015.65.00002

Copyright: The abstracts in this collection have not been subject to any Frontiers peer review or checks, and are not endorsed by Frontiers. They are made available through the Frontiers publishing platform as a service to conference organizers and presenters.

The copyright in the individual abstracts is owned by the author of each abstract or his/her employer unless otherwise stated.

Each abstract, as well as the collection of abstracts, are published under a Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 (attribution) licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) and may thus be reproduced, translated, adapted and be the subject of derivative works provided the authors and Frontiers are attributed.

For Frontiers’ terms and conditions please see https://www.frontiersin.org/legal/terms-and-conditions.

Received: 01 May 2015; Published Online: 24 Sep 2015.

* Correspondence: Dr. Gary M Oppenheim, Bangor University, Psychology, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2AS, United Kingdom, g.m.oppenheim@bangor.ac.uk