Effects of grammaticality and morphological complexity on the P600 event-related potential component

Alison S. Mehravari, Darren Tanner, Emma K. Wampler, Geoffrey D. Valentine, Lee Osterhout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated interactions between morphological complexity and grammaticality on electrophysiological markers of grammatical processing during reading. Our goal was to determine whether morphological complexity and stimulus grammaticality have independent or additive effects on the P600 event-related potential component. Participants read sentences that were either well-formed or grammatically ill-formed, in which the critical word was either morphologically simple or complex. Results revealed no effects of complexity for well-formed stimuli, but the P600 amplitude was significantly larger for morphologically complex ungrammatical stimuli than for morphologically simple ungrammatical stimuli. These findings suggest that some previous work may have inadequately characterized factors related to reanalysis during morphosyntactic processing. Our results show that morphological complexity by itself does not elicit P600 effects. However, in ungrammatical circumstances, overt morphology provides a more robust and reliable cue to morphosyntactic relationships than null affixation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0140850
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 21 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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