A beautiful day in the neighborhood: An event-related potential study of lexical relationships and prediction in context

Sarah Laszlo, Kara D Federmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Two related questions critical to understanding the predictive processes that come online during sentence comprehension are (1) what information is included in the representation created through prediction and (2) at what functional stage does top-down, predicted information begin to affect bottom-up word processing? We investigated these questions by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) as participants read sentences that ended with expected words or with unexpected items (words, pseudowords, or illegal strings) that were either orthographically unrelated to the expected word or were one of its orthographic neighbors. The data show that, regardless of lexical status, attempts at semantic access (N400) for orthographic neighbors of expected words are facilitated relative to the processing of orthographically unrelated items. Our findings support a view of sentence processing wherein orthographically organized information is brought online by prediction and interacts with input prior to any filter on lexical status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-338
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009



  • ERPs
  • N400
  • Orthographic neighborhood
  • Sentence comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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