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

Chia lin Lee, Kara D. Federmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-158
Number of pages14
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008



  • Concreteness effects
  • ERPs
  • Language
  • Noun-verb homonymy
  • Word class
  • Word class ambiguity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

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