Temporal characteristics of semantic perseverations induced by blocked-cyclic picture naming

Esther Y. Hsiao, Myrna F. Schwartz, Tatiana T. Schnur, Gary S. Dell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When unimpaired participants name pictures quickly, they produce many perseverations that bear a semantic relation to the target, especially when the pictures are blocked by category. Evidence suggests that the temporal properties of these "semantic perseverations" may differ from typical lexical perseverations in aphasia. To explore this, we studied semantic perseverations generated by participants with aphasia on a naming task with semantic blocking [Schnur, T. T., Schwartz, M. F., Brecher, A., & Hodgson, C. (2006). Semantic interference during blocked-cyclic naming: Evidence from aphasia. Journal of Memory and Language, 54, 199-227]. The properties of these perseverations were investigated by analyzing how often they occurred at each lag (distance from prior occurrence) and how time (response-stimulus interval) influenced the lag function. Chance data sets were created by re-shuffling stimulus-response pairs in a manner that preserved unique features of the blocking design. We found that the semantic blocking manipulation did not eliminate the expected bias for short-lag perseverations (recency bias). However, immediate (lag 1) perseverations were not invariably the most frequent, which hints at a source of inconsistency within and across studies. Importantly, there was not a reliable difference between the lag functions for perseverations generated with a 5 s, compared to 1 s, response-stimulus interval. The combination of recency bias and insensitivity to elapsed time indicates that the perseveratory impetus in a named response does not passively decay with time but rather is diminished by interference from related trials. We offer an incremental learning account of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Aphasia
  • Incremental learning
  • Naming
  • Perseveration
  • Priming
  • Semantic blocking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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