Although the significance of morphological structure is established in visual word processing, its role in auditory processing remains unclear. Using magnetoencephalography we probe the significance of the root morpheme for spoken Arabic words with two experimental manipulations. First we compare a model of auditory processing that calculates probable lexical outcomes based on whole-word competitors, versus a model that only considers the root as relevant to lexical identification. Second, we assess violations to the root-specific Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP), which disallows root-initial consonant gemination. Our results show root prediction to significantly correlate with neural activity in superior temporal regions, independent of predictions based on whole-word competitors. Furthermore, words that violated the OCP constraint were significantly easier to dismiss as valid words than probability-matched counterparts. The findings suggest that lexical auditory processing is dependent upon morphological structure, and that the root forms a principal unit through which spoken words are recognised.
- Obligatory contour principle.
- Spoken word recognition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Speech and Hearing