Producing ambiguous messages


Recent evidence suggests that lexical-semantic activation spread, including the formation of ad-hoc relations, can be dynamically shaped by contextual factors (Abdel Rahman & Melinger, 2011). In this study we investigated whether cognitive processing modes can affect lexical-semantic activation during single word production. Specifically, we tested whether prior processing of linguistic ambiguities, presented in the form of puns, has an influence on the co-activation of unrelated meanings of homophones in a subsequent language production task. In a picture-word interference paradigm with word distractors that were semantically related or unrelated to the non-depicted meanings of homophones we found facilitation induced by related words only when participants listened to puns before object naming, but not when they heard jokes with unambiguous linguistic stimuli. This finding suggests that a cognitive mode of ambiguity processing can induce the activation of ambiguous messages during speech planning.

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