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Selective inhibition and naming performance in semantic blocking, picture-word interference, and color-word stroop tasks

Shao, Z., Roelofs, A., Martin, R., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Selective inhibition and naming performance in semantic blocking, picture-word interference, and color-word stroop tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41, 1806-1820. doi:10.1037/a0039363.
In two studies, we examined whether explicit distractors are necessary and sufficient toevoke selective inhibition in three naming tasks: the semantic blocking, picture-word interference, and color-word Stroop task. Delta plots were used to quantify the size of the interference effects as a function of reaction time (RT). Selective inhibition was operationalized as the decrease in the size of the interference effect as a function of naming RT. For all naming tasks, mean naming RTs were significantly longer in the interference condition than in a control condition. The slopes of the interference effects for the longest naming RTs correlated with the magnitude of the mean interference effect in both the semantic blocking task and the picture-word interference task, suggesting that selective inhibition was involved to reduce the interference from strong semantic competitors either invoked by a single explicit competitor or strong implicit competitors in picture naming. However, there was no correlation between the slopes and the mean interference effect in the Stroop task, suggesting less importance of selective inhibition in this task despite explicit distractors. Whereas the results of the semantic blocking task suggest that an explicit distractor is not necessary for triggering inhibition, the results of the Stroop task suggest that such a distractor is not sufficient for evoking inhibition either.
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