An event-related potential study of cross-modal morphological and phonological priming

Timothy Justus, Jennifer Yang, Jary Larsen, Paul de Mornay Davies, Diane Swick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The current work investigated whether differences in phonological overlap between the past- and present-tense forms of regular and irregular verbs can account for the graded neurophysiological effects of verb regularity observed in past-tense priming designs. Event-related potentials were recorded from 16 healthy participants who performed a lexical-decision task in which past-tense primes immediately preceded present-tense targets. To minimize intra-modal phonological priming effects, cross-modal presentation between auditory primes and visual targets was employed, and results were compared to a companion intra-modal auditory study (Justus, T., Larsen, J., de Mornay Davies, P., Swick, D. (2008). Interpreting dissociations between regular and irregular past-tense morphology: evidence from event-related potentials. Cognitive, Affective, Behavioral Neuroscience, 8, 178-194.). For both regular and irregular verbs, faster response times and reduced N400 components were observed for present-tense forms when primed by the corresponding past-tense forms. Although behavioral facilitation was observed with a pseudopast phonological control condition, neither this condition nor an orthographic-phonological control produced significant N400 priming effects. Instead, these two types of priming were associated with a post-lexical anterior negativity (PLAN). Results are discussed with regard to dual- and single-system theories of inflectional morphology, as well as intra- and cross-modal prelexical priming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-604
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009


  • Cross-modal
  • Event-related potentials (ERP)
  • LPC
  • Morphological priming Phonological priming
  • N400
  • PLAN
  • Past tense
  • Regular and irregular verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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