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Can I have a quick word? Early electrophysiological manifestations of psycholinguistic processes revealed by event-related regression analysis of the EEG
HAUK, O., PULVERMULLER, F., Ford, M., MARSLEN-WILSON, W.D & DAVIS, M.H.
Biological Psychology, 80(1), 64-74.
Year of publication:
We applied multiple linear regression analysis to event-related electrophysiological responses to words and pseudowords in a visual lexical decision task, yielding event-related regression coefficients (ERRCs) instead of the traditional event-related potential (ERP) measure. Our main goal was to disentangle the earliest ERP effects of the length of letter strings (‘‘word length’’) and orthographic neighbourhood size (Coltheart’s ‘‘N’’). With respect to N, existing evidence is still ambiguous with respect to whether effects of N reflect early access to lexico-semantic information, or whether they occur at later decision or verification stages. In the present study, we found distinct europhysiological manifestations of both N and word length around 100 ms after word onset. Importantly, the effect of N distinguished between words and pseudowords, while the effect of word length did not. Minimum norm source estimation revealed the most dominant sources for word length in bilateral posterior brain areas for both words and pseudowords. For N, these sources were more left-lateralised and consistent with perisylvian brain areas, with activation peaks in temporal areas being more anterior for words compared to pseudowords. Our results support evidence for an effect of N at early and elementary stages of word recognition. We discuss the implications of these results for the time line of word recognition processes, and emphasise the value of ERRCs in combination with source analysis in psycholinguistic and cognitive brain research.