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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

May 2004, Vol. 16, No. 4, Pages 541-552
(doi: 10.1162/089892904323057281)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
ERPs Reflect Lexical Identification in Word Fragment Priming
Article PDF (1.45 MB)

Behavioral evidence suggests that spoken word recognition involves the temporary activation of multiple entries in a listener's mental lexicon. This phenomenon can be demonstrated in cross-modal word fragment priming (CMWP). In CMWP, an auditory word fragment (prime) is immediately followed by a visual word or pseudoword (target). Experiment 1 investigated ERPs for targets presented in this paradigm. Half of the targets were congruent with the prime (e.g., in the prime-target pair: AM-AMBOSS [anvil]), half were not (e.g., AM-PENSUM [pensum]). Lexical entries of the congruent targets should receive activation from the prime. Thus, lexical identification of these targets should be facilitated. An ERP effect named P350, two frontal negative ERP deflections, and the N400 were sensitive to prime-target congruency. In Experiment 2, the relation of the formerly observed ERP effects to processes in a modality-independent mental lexicon was investigated by presenting primes visually. Only the P350 effect could be replicated across different fragment lengths. Therefore, the P350 is discussed as a correlate of lexical identification in a modality-independent mental lexicon.