Dual-coding theory argues that processing advantages for concrete over abstract (verbal) stimuli result from the operation of 2 systems (i.e., imaginal and verbal) for concrete stimuli, rather than just 1 (for abstract stimuli). These verbal and imaginal systems have been linked with the left and right hemispheres of the brain, respectively. Context-availability theory argues that concreteness effects result from processing differences in a single system. The merits of these theories were investigated by examining the topographic distribution of event-related brain potentials in 2 experiments (lexical decision and concrete-abstract classification). The results were most consistent with dual-coding theory. In particular, different scalp distributions of an N400-like negativity were elicited by concrete and abstract words.