To watch, to see, and to differ: an event-related potential study of concreteness effects as a function of word class and lexical ambiguity

Brain Lang. 2008 Feb;104(2):145-58. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2007.06.002. Epub 2007 Jul 30.


Electrophysiological techniques were used to assess the generalizability of concreteness effects on word processing across word class (nouns and verbs) and different types of lexical ambiguity (syntactic only and combined syntactic/semantic). The results replicated prior work in showing an enhanced N400 response and a sustained frontal negativity to concrete as compared with abstract nouns. The effect of concreteness on the N400 generalized to all word class and ambiguity conditions, whereas the frontal effect was present for all word types except for the syntactically and semantically ambiguous items when these were used as verbs. The seemingly dissociable ERP effects of concreteness at frontal and central/posterior electrode sites revealed by these data suggest that concreteness may impact multiple aspects of neurocognitive processing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Reaction Time