Using event-related brain potentials (ERPs), the present study examined non-native English speakers' brain activation of different meanings of English homonyms in inappropriate sentence contexts. We differentiated two types of homonyms: biased words vs. balanced words, where the former had a dominant and subordinate meaning respectively whereas the two meanings of the later type had a comparable usage frequency. High proficiency Chinese ESL participants were instructed to perform a lexical decision task in a 3 (word meaning types: balanced, biased dominant, biased subordinate) × 2 (Relatedness: related vs. unrelated) priming paradigm. Repeated measures ANOVA showed that related targets with the balanced or biased dominant meanings elicited a smaller N400 amplitude than unrelated ones but no such effect was found with biased subordinate meaning. Results suggested a dissociation of processing mechanisms for different word types. At 500ms stimulus-onset-asynchrony (SOA), both meanings of the balanced words were activated; whereas only the dominant meaning of the biased words could be activated in inappropriate sentence context.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||International journal of bioelectromagnetism|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
- N400 amplitude
- meaning activation
- biased words
- balanced words