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Word structure tunes electrophysiological and hemodynamic responses in the frontal cortex

By Fei Gao, Lin Hua, Yuwen He, Zhen Yuan

Posted 15 Nov 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.11.14.468513

To date, it is still unclear how word structure might impact lexical processing in the brain for morphological impoverished language like Chinese. In this study, concurrent EEG and fNIRS recordings were performed to inspect the temporal and spatial brain activity that are related to the morphological priming effect (compound/derivation constitute priming vs. non-morphological priming) and word structure (compound vs. derivation) modulation. Interestingly, it was discovered that the morphological priming effect was mainly detected by the behavioral performance and spatial brain activation in the left prefrontal cortex, while word structure effect was revealed by the behavioral data as well as the temporal and spatial brain activation patterns. In addition, Chinese derivations exhibited significantly enhanced brain activation in the frontal cortex and involved more brain networks as compared to lexicalized compounds. The results were interpreted by the differing connection patterns between constitute morphemes within a given word structure from spreading activation perspective. More importantly, we demonstrated that Chinese word structure effect showed a distinct brain activation pattern as compared to that from the dual-route mechanism in alphabetic languages. Therefore, this pilot work paves a new avenue for comprehensively understanding the underlying cognitive neural mechanism associated with Chinese derivations and coordinate compounds.

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