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Brain Res. 2008 Jan 10;1188:132-8. Epub 2007 Nov 7.

On-line activation of orthography in spoken word recognition.

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Aix-Marseille Université, France.


An increasing number of studies suggest that learning to read changes the way the brain processes spoken language. Yet, there is still a hot debate about the locus of these literacy effects. While most psycholinguists would argue that these effects are late and postlexical, interactive theories of word recognition suggest that orthography might affect the core processes of spoken word recognition (lexical access). Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were used to track the on-line activation of orthography in spoken word recognition. We manipulated the orthographic consistency of spoken words at two positions: early or late. The results showed prelexical and lexical ERP differences between orthographically consistent and inconsistent words. Most importantly, the ERP differences were time-locked to the "arrival" of the orthographic inconsistency, which provides the strongest evidence available thus far in favor of on-line activation of orthography during spoken word recognition.

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