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Using Brain Potentials to Functionally Localise Stroop-Like Effects in Colour and Picture Naming: Perceptual Encoding versus Word Planning

Shitova, N., Roelofs, A., Schriefers, H., Bastiaansen, M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2016). Using Brain Potentials to Functionally Localise Stroop-Like Effects in Colour and Picture Naming: Perceptual Encoding versus Word Planning. PLoS One, 11(9): e0161052. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161052.
The colour-word Stroop task and the picture-word interference task (PWI) have been used extensively to study the functional processes underlying spoken word production. One of the consistent behavioural effects in both tasks is the Stroop-like effect: The reaction time (RT) is longer on incongruent trials than on congruent trials. The effect in the Stroop task is usually linked to word planning, whereas the effect in the PWI task is associated with either word planning or perceptual encoding. To adjudicate between the word planning and perceptual encoding accounts of the effect in PWI, we conducted an EEG experiment consisting of three tasks: a standard colour-word Stroop task (three colours), a standard PWI task (39 pictures), and a Stroop-like version of the PWI task (three pictures). Participants overtly named the colours and pictures while their EEG was recorded. A Stroop-like effect in RTs was observed in all three tasks. ERPs at centro-parietal sensors started to deflect negatively for incongruent relative to congruent stimuli around 350 ms after stimulus onset for the Stroop, Stroop-like PWI, and the Standard PWI tasks: an N400 effect. No early differences were found in the PWI tasks. The onset of the Stroop-like effect at about 350 ms in all three tasks links the effect to word planning rather than perceptual encoding, which has been estimated in the literature to be finished around 200–250 ms after stimulus onset. We conclude that the Stroop-like effect arises during word planning in both Stroop and PWI.
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