Parallel processing of semantics and phonology in spoken production: Evidence from blocked cyclic picture naming and EEG

Chen Feng, Markus F Damian, Q Qu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Spoken language production involves lexical-semantic access and phonological encoding. A theoretically important question concerns the relative time course of these two cognitive processes. The predominant view has been that semantic and phonological codes are accessed in successive stages. However, recent evidence seems difficult to reconcile with a sequential view but rather suggests that both types of codes are accessed in parallel. Here, we used event-related potentials (ERPs) combined with the ‘blocked cyclic naming paradigm’ in which items overlapped either semantically or phonologically. Behaviourally, both semantic and phonological overlap caused interference relative to unrelated baseline conditions. Crucially, ERP data demonstrated that the semantic and phonological effects emerged at a similar latency (~180 ms after picture onset) and within a similar time window (180-380 ms). These findings suggest that access to phonological information takes place at a relatively early stage during spoken planning, largely in parallel with semantic processing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Dec 2020


  • ERPs
  • Phonology
  • Semantics
  • Spoken production
  • Time Course

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