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Rapid acquisition of novel written word-forms: ERP evidence

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  • Beatriz Bermúdez-Margaretto, NRU Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • ,
  • Yury Shtyrov
  • David Beltrán, University of La Laguna
  • ,
  • Fernando Cuetos, University of Oviedo
  • ,
  • Alberto Domínguez, University of La Laguna

Background: Novel word acquisition is generally believed to be a rapid process, essential for ensuring a flexible and efficient communication system; at least in spoken language, learners are able to construct memory traces for new linguistic stimuli after just a few exposures. However, such rapid word learning has not been systematically found in visual domain, with different confounding factors obscuring the orthographic learning of novel words. This study explored the changes in human brain activity occurring online, during a brief training with novel written word-forms using a silent reading task Results: Single-trial, cluster-based random permutation analysis revealed that training caused an extremely fast (after just one repetition) and stable facilitation in novel word processing, reflected in the modulation of P200 and N400 components, possibly indicating rapid dynamics at early and late stages of the lexical processing. Furthermore, neural source estimation of these effects revealed the recruitment of brain areas involved in orthographic and lexico-semantic processing, respectively. Conclusions: These results suggest the formation of neural memory traces for novel written word-forms after a minimal exposure to them even in the absence of a semantic reference, resembling the rapid learning processes known to occur in spoken language.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalBehavioral and Brain Functions
Volume16
ISSN1744-9081
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Research areas

  • Cluster-based random permutation analysis, ERP methodology, N400, P200, Word learning

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