The influence of semantic category membership on syntactic decisions: A study using event-related potentials

N.O. Schiller*, T. Schuhmann, A.C. Neyndorff, B.M. Schmitt

*Corresponding author for this work

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An event-related brain potentials (ERP) experiment was carried out to investigate the influence of semantic category membership on syntactic decision-making. Native speakers of German viewed a series of words that were semantically marked or unmarked for gender and made go/no-go decisions about the grammatical gender of those words. The electrophysiological results indicated that participants could make a gender decision earlier when words were semantically gender-marked than when they were semantically gender-unmarked. Our data provide evidence for the influence of semantic category membership on the decision of the syntactic gender of a visually presented German noun. More specifically, our results support models of language comprehension in which semantic information processing of words is initiated prior to syntactic information processing is finalized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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