Vol. 10, No. 2
A Brain Potential Whose Latency Indexes the Length and Frequency of Words
*Cognitive Science, UCSD; #Neurosciences, UCSD
ERPs were recorded from 24 undergraduates in an investigation of the effects of length, frequency, and grammatical class on the brain's response to words during sentence reading. Our results indicate that the combined length and frequency of a word are indexed by the latency of a negative peak maximal over left anterior regions of the scalp that we call the Lexical Processing Negativity or LPN; the form of this relationship mirrors that between these same lexical factors and reaction times. The length-frequency effect on the LPN accounts for some of the known electrophysiological differences between open class (content) and closed class (function) words. The LPN also helps bridge a perceived gap between reaction time and electrophysiological data as measures of cognitive processes in visual word recognition.