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Selective and nonselective inhibition of competitors in picture naming

Shao, Z., Meyer, A. S., & Roelofs, A. (2013). Selective and nonselective inhibition of competitors in picture naming. Memory & Cognition, 41(8), 1200-1211. doi:10.3758/s13421-013-0332-7.
The present study examined the relation between nonselective inhibition and selective inhibition in picture naming performance. Nonselective inhibition refers to the ability to suppress any unwanted response, whereas selective inhibition refers to the ability to suppress specific competing responses. The degree of competition in picture naming was manipulated by presenting targets along with distractor words that could be semantically related (e.g., a picture of a dog combined with the word cat) or unrelated (tree) to the picture name. The mean naming response time (RT) was longer in the related than in the unrelated condition, reflecting semantic interference. Delta plot analyses showed that participants with small mean semantic interference effects employed selective inhibition more effectively than did participants with larger semantic interference effects. The participants were also tested on the stop-signal task, which taps nonselective inhibition. Their performance on this task was correlated with their mean naming RT but, importantly, not with the selective inhibition indexed by the delta plot analyses and the magnitude of the semantic interference effect. These results indicate that nonselective inhibition ability and selective inhibition of competitors in picture naming are separable to some extent.
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