When semantics aids phonology: A processing advantage for iconic word forms in aphasia

Lotte Meteyard, Emily Stoppard, Dee Snudden, Stefano F. Cappa, Gabriella Vigliocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Iconicity is the non-arbitrary relation between properties of a phonological form and semantic content (e.g. "moo", "splash"). It is a common feature of both spoken and signed languages, and recent evidence shows that iconic forms confer an advantage during word learning. We explored whether iconic forms conferred a processing advantage for 13 individuals with aphasia following left-hemisphere stroke. Iconic and control words were compared in four different tasks: repetition, reading aloud, auditory lexical decision and visual lexical decision. An advantage for iconic words was seen for some individuals in all tasks, with consistent group effects emerging in reading aloud and auditory lexical decision. Both these tasks rely on mapping between semantics and phonology. We conclude that iconicity aids spoken word processing for individuals with aphasia. This advantage is due to a stronger connection between semantic information and phonological forms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Aphasia
  • Iconicity
  • Phonology
  • Semantics
  • Sound-symbolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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