Age of acquisition effects in picture naming: Evidence for a lexical-semantic competition hypothesis

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In many tasks the effects of frequency and age of acquisition (AoA) on reaction latencies are similar in size. However, in picture naming the AoA-effect is often significantly larger than expected on the basis of the frequency-effect. Previous explanations of this frequency-independent AoA-effect have attributed it to the organisation of the semantic system or to the way phonological word forms are stored in the mental lexicon. Using a semantic blocking paradigm, we show that semantic context effects on naming latencies are more pronounced for late-acquired than for early-acquired words. This interaction between AoA and naming context is likely to arise during lexical-semantic encoding, which we put forward as the locus for the frequency-independent AoA-effect. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B45-B54
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005


  • semantic context, picture naming, age-of-acquisition, lexical retrieval