Frequency and predictability effects on event-related potentials during reading

Brain Res. 2006 Apr 21;1084(1):89-103. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.02.010. Epub 2006 Mar 20.


Effects of frequency, predictability, and position of words on event-related potentials were assessed during word-by-word sentence reading in 48 subjects in an early and in a late time window corresponding to P200 and N400. Repeated measures multiple regression analyses revealed a P200 effect in the high-frequency range; also the P200 was larger on words at the beginning and end of sentences than on words in the middle of sentences (i.e., a quadratic effect of word position). Predictability strongly affected the N400 component; the effect was stronger for low than for high-frequency words. The P200 frequency effect indicates that high-frequency words are lexically accessed very fast, independent of context information. Effects on the N400 suggest that predictability strongly moderates the late access especially of low-frequency words. Thus, contextual facilitation on the N400 appears to reflect both lexical and post-lexical stages of word recognition, questioning a strict classification into lexical and post-lexical processes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Verbal Learning / physiology