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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The effect of orthographic relationships, lexical status and contextual constraint on visual word recognition: Evidence from event-related potentials


Readers rely on sentence context to generate predictions about the upcoming words so that processing of their visual forms is less necessary. Consequently, processing of an orthographic neighbor of a strongly predicted word is facilitated by that context (as indicated by a reduced N400 ERP amplitude), regardless of the perceived item’s lexicality (i.e., whether it is a real word or a pseudoword). The current study investigated whether lexicality becomes important when the sentence context is less helpful in generating predictions. Our findings indicate that in weakly constraining sentences, the lexical status of a word impacts word recognition processes as indicated by a left anterior negativity, suggesting that readers rely on sublexical properties of words in the absence of strong expectations.

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