Dynamic semantic representations in language production
This project focuses on spoken language production in healthy adult speakers and addresses whether semantic codes involved in speaking are ?static? (ie fixed and independent of any particular context) or ?dynamic? (ie adjusting to circumstances). The latter possibility has been suggested by recent research in language comprehension, but is at present largely unexplored in spoken production. Current accounts of speaking assume that a so-called ?message? in a speaker?s mind serves as relatively ?static? input to the mental lexicon, allowing access to lexical concepts which comprise information about meaning relevant to the ultimate goal of speaking. The alternative ?dynamic? view proposes that the nature and degree of conceptual access varies according to task and situation. The project will test this possibility in a range of tasks commonly used in research on spoken language production (picture-word interference, picture naming with preceding primes, or in conjunction with a secondary task etc). These studies constitute an initial step in characterising the nature of conceptual codes in speaking. If the experiments show that semantic retrieval is focus- and context-dependent, similar studies could be used in other populations such as children or elderly persons, which might advance an understanding of how the semantic system develops across the lifespan.