The role of grammatical class on word recognition

Gabriella Vigliocco, David P. Vinson, Joanne Arciuli, Horacio Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The double dissociation between noun and verb processing, well documented in the neuropsychological literature, has not been supported in imaging studies. Recent imaging studies, in fact, suggest that once confounding with semantics is eliminated, grammatical class effects only emerge as a consequence of building frames. Here we assess this hypothesis behaviorally in two visual word recognition experiments. In Experiment 1, participants made lexical decisions on verb targets. We manipulated the grammatical class of the prime words (either nouns or verbs and always introduced in a minimal phrasal context, i.e., "the + N" or "to + V"), and their semantic similarity to a target (related vs. unrelated). We found reliable effects of grammatical class, and no interaction with semantic similarity. Experiment 2 further explored this grammatical class effect, using verb targets preceded by semantically unrelated verb vs. noun primes. In one condition, prime words were presented as bare words; in the other, they were presented in the minimal phrasal context used in Experiment 1. Grammatical class effects only arose in the latter but not in the former condition thus providing evidence that word recognition does not recruit grammatical class information unless it is provided to the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Grammatical class
  • Lexical decision
  • Noun-verb processing
  • Priming
  • Word recognition


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