During language production and comprehension, information about a word's syntactic properties is sometimes needed. While the decision about the grammatical gender of a word requires access to syntactic knowledge, it has also been hypothesized that semantic (i.e., biological gender) or phonological information (i.e., sound regularities) may influence this decision. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were measured while native speakers of German processed written words that were or were not semantically and/or phonologically marked for gender. Behavioral and ERP results showed that participants were faster in making a gender decision when words were semantically and/or phonologically gender marked than when this was not the case, although the phonological effects were less clear. In conclusion, our data provide evidence that even though participants performed a grammatical gender decision, this task can be influenced by semantic and phonological factors.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)