Where is the effect of frequency in word production? Insights from aphasic picture-naming errors

Audrey K. Kittredge, Gary S. Dell, Jay Verkuilen, Myrna F. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some theories of lexical access in production locate the effect of lexical frequency at the retrieval of a word's phonological characteristics, as opposed to the prior retrieval of a holistic representation of the word from its meaning. Yet there is evidence from both normal and aphasic individuals that frequency may influence both of these retrieval processes. This inconsistency is especially relevant in light of recent attempts to determine the representation of another lexical property-age of acquisition or AoA-whose effect is similar to that of frequency. To further explore the representations of these lexical variables in the word retrieval system, we performed hierarchical, multinomial logistic regression analyses of 50 aphasic patients' picture-naming responses. While both log frequency and AoA had a significant influence on patient accuracy and led to fewer phonologically related errors and omissions, only log frequency had an effect on semantically related errors. These results provide evidence for a lexical access process sensitive to frequency at all stages, but with AoA having a more limited effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-492
Number of pages30
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Age of acquisition
  • Aphasia
  • Hierarchical multinomial logistic regression
  • Lexical frequency
  • Word production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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