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The time course of lexical access in morphologically complex words

Holle, Henning; Gunter, Thomas C.; Koester, Dirk


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Dr Henning Holle
Reader in Psychology / Leader of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience group (

Thomas C. Gunter

Dirk Koester


Compounding, the concatenation of words (e.g. dishwasher), is an important mechanism across many languages. This study investigated whether access of initial compound constituents occurs immediately or, alternatively, whether it is delayed until the last constituent (i.e. the head). Electroencephalogram was measured as participants listened to German two-constituent compounds. Both the initial as well as the following head constituent could consist of either a word or nonword, resulting in four experimental conditions. Results showed a larger N400 for initial nonword constituents, suggesting that lexical access was attempted before the head. Thus, this study provides direct evidence that lexical access of transparent compound constituents in German occurs immediately, and is not delayed until the compound head is encountered.


Holle, H., Gunter, T. C., & Koester, D. (2010). The time course of lexical access in morphologically complex words. NeuroReport, 21(5), 319-323.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2009
Publication Date Mar 1, 2010
Journal Neuroreport
Print ISSN 1473-558X
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 5
Pages 319-323
Keywords General Neuroscience
Public URL
PMID 20145576