Semantic and phonological task-set priming and stimulus processing investigated using magnetoencephalography (MEG)

F McNab, G Rippon, A Hillebrand, K D Singh, S J Swithenby

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9 Citations (Scopus)


In this study the neural substrates of semantic and phonological task priming and task performance were investigated using single word task-primes. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) data were analysed using Synthetic Aperture Magnetometry (SAM) to determine the spatiotemporal and spectral characteristics of cortical responses. Comparisons were made between the task-prime conditions for evidence of differential effects as a function of the nature of the task being primed, and between the task-prime and the task performance responses for evidence of parallels in activation associated with preparation for and completion of a specific task. Differential priming effects were found. Left middle temporal and inferior frontal voxels showed a statistically significant power decrease associated with the semantic task-prime, and a power increase associated with the phonological task-prime, within beta and gamma frequency bands respectively. Similarities between the task-related differential effects associated with task-prime presentation and those associated with target stimulus presentation were also found. For example, within the semantic task condition, left superior frontal and middle temporal regions showed a significant power decrease within both task-prime and target epochs; within the phonological task condition there were significant parietal and cerebellar power decreases within both types of epoch. In addition there was evidence within the priming epochs of dissociable patterns of activity which could be interpreted as indices of de-activation of task-irrelevant networks. Following a phonological task-prime, significant power increases were observed in those inferior frontal and middle temporal regions in which significant power decreases were associated with semantic task priming and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-54
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain Mapping/instrumentation
  • Cerebral Cortex/physiology
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Mental Processes/physiology
  • Reaction Time/physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Semantics
  • Set (Psychology)
  • Speech/physiology

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