A visual M170 effect of morphological complexity

Eytan Zweig, Liina Pylkkänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent masked priming studies on visual word recognition have suggested that morphological decomposition is performed prelexically, purely on the basis of the orthographic properties of the word form. Given this, one might expect morphological complexity to modulate early visual evoked activity in electromagnetic measures. We investigated the neural bases of morphological decomposition with magnetoencephalography (MEG). In two experiments, we manipulated morphological complexity in single word lexical decision without priming, once using suffixed words and once using prefixed words. We found that morphologically complex forms display larger amplitudes in the M170, the same component that has been implicated for letterstring and face effects in previous MEG studies. Although letterstring effects have been reported to be left-lateral, we found a right-lateral effect of morphological complexity, suggesting that both hemispheres may be involved in early analysis of word forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-439
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Lexicon
  • M170
  • MEG
  • Morphological decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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