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Quick reorganization of memory traces for morphologically complex words in young children

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  • Miika Leminen
  • Alina Leminen
  • Sini Smolander, Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Oulu
  • ,
  • Eva Arkkila, Helsinki University Central Hospital
  • ,
  • Yury Shtyrov
  • Marja Laasonen, Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Turku, Helsingin yliopisto
  • ,
  • Teija Kujala, University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine

Formation of neural mechanisms for morphosyntactic processing in young children is still poorly understood. Here, we addressed neural processing and rapid online acquisition of familiar and unfamiliar combinations of morphemes. Three different types of morphologically complex words – derived, inflected, and novel (pseudostem + real suffix) – were presented in a passive listening setting to 16 typically developing 3-4-year old children (as part of a longitudinal Helsinki SLI follow-up study). The mismatch negativity (MMN) component of event-related potentials (ERP), an established index of long-term linguistic memory traces in the brain, was analysed separately for the initial and final periods of the exposure to these items. We found MMN response enhancement for the inflected words towards the end of the recording session, whereas no response change was observed for the derived or novel complex forms. This enhancement indicates rapid build-up of a new memory trace for the combination of real morphemes, suggesting a capacity for online formation of whole-form lexicalized representations as one of the morphological mechanisms in the developing brain. Furthermore, this enhancement increased with age, suggesting the development of automatic morphological processing circuits in the age range of 3–4 years.

Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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