Resolving conflict: a response to Martin and Cheng (2006)

Psychon Bull Rev. 2006 Jun;13(3):402-8; discussion 409-11. doi: 10.3758/bf03193860.


Martin and Cheng (2006) report the results of an experiment aimed at disentangling the effects of association strength from those of competition on performance on a verb generation task. Their experiment is situated at the center of a putative debate regarding the function of the left inferior frontal gyrus in language processing (see, e.g., Wagner, Pard-Blagoev, Clark, and Poldrack, 2001). Following in this tradition, Martin and Cheng purport to contrast two processes--selection between competing representations and controlled retrieval of weak associates--that we argue can be reduced to the same mechanism. We contend that the distinction between competition and association strength is a false dichotomy, and we attempt to recast this discussion within a Bayesian framework in an attempt to guide research in this area in a more fruitful direction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Free Association*
  • Humans
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Reaction Time
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Vocabulary