Open wide and say "blah!" attentional dynamics of delayed naming

Stephen Goldinger, Tamiko Azuma, Marianne Abramson, Pushpam Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In a well-known study, Balota and Chumbley (1985) used a delayed naming task to assess post-perceptual word frequency effects. They observed frequency effects after considerable delays, suggesting that frequency sensitivity characterizes not only the perceptual stage, but also post-access stages. The present investigation examined delayed naming in a dual-task. Using delays after perception and a constant response ("blah") for all catch trials, we attained relatively pure indices of the mental workloads incurred by low- and high-frequency words. Across experiments, reliable frequency effects occurred in both word-naming and catch trials. The frequency effects can be modified by altering omnibus task difficulty, or by adding phonologically confusable memory loads. The results suggest that frequency effects in delayed naming (and their occasional absence in prior studies) partly reflect attentional differences. We describe a resonance framework in which word perception, rehearsal, and production all rely on stable feedback loops among knowledge structures. Attention is required both to create and to maintain feedback loops; each word's level of attention demand is predicted by its frequency of previous occurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-216
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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