Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Debra Jared

Second Advisor

Dr. Marc Joanisse


The current study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the effects of semantic transparency on the early processing of complex words. The predictions from competing theories of morphological processing, pure decomposition and parallel distributed processing (PDP), were tested using a colour-morpheme boundary paradigm (Rapp, 1992). Semantically transparent forms that were segmented by colour in a way that was congruent or incongruent with the morpheme boundary (builder versus builder) were compared to quasi-regular forms with some semantic relatedness between stem and form (folder versus folder), semantically opaque forms (muster versus muster), and orthographie control forms (bucket versus bucket) in a go/no-go lexical decision task. Within-Subject ANOVAs of the colour-morpheme congruency manipulation revealed a significant fronto-central negativity starting at 180 ms post-stimulus onset. Further analyses revealed that the duration of the colour congruency effect was consistent with the graded pattern of semantic congruency across the word types. The results support a parallel distributed processing approach rather than a pure decomposition approach to understanding the visual processing of complex words.



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