Tracking lexical consolidation with ERPs: Lexical and semantic-priming effects on N400 and LPC responses to newly-learned words

Iske Bakker, Atsuko Takashima, Janet G. van Hell, Gabriele Janzen, James M. McQueen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Novel words can be recalled immediately and after little exposure, but require a post-learning consolidation period to show word-like behaviour such as lexical competition. This pattern is thought to reflect a qualitative shift from episodic to lexical representations. However, several studies have reported immediate effects of meaningful novel words on semantic processing, suggesting that integration of novel word meanings may not require consolidation. The current study synthesises and extends these findings by showing a dissociation between lexical and semantic effects on the electrophysiological (N400, LPC) response to novel words. The difference in N400 amplitude between novel and existing words (a lexical effect) decreased significantly after a 24-h consolidation period, providing novel support for the hypothesis that offline consolidation aids lexicalisation. In contrast, novel words preceded by semantically related primes elicited a more positive LPC response (a semantic-priming effect) both before and after consolidation, indicating that certain semantic effects can be observed even when words have not been fully lexicalised. We propose that novel meanings immediately start to contribute to semantic processing, but that the underlying neural processes may shift from strategic to more automatic with consolidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume79
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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