Morris Lab

Reading Complex Words

Much of our work in the lab examines how we read words that consist of more that one morpheme, or ‘unit of meaning

Consider words like ‘un-happy’ or ‘walk-ed’. There is wide agreement that such words are ‘decomposed’ into their constituent morphemes during recognition, but it was thought that this decomposition was based on the meaning of the constituents so that a word like ‘sing-er’ would be broken down but a word like ‘corn-er’ would not be. However, later studies suggested that morphological decomposition was not in fact guided by semantic knowledge but rather the recognition of morphologically complex words begins with a rapid morphemic segmentation based purely on the analysis of orthography. My research provided neurophysiological evidence in support of a hybrid account of morphological processing with a role for both morpho-orthographic and morpho-semantic representations in the earliest stages of word recognition, and identified an ERP component, the N250 that appears to reflect the processes involved in sub-lexical orthographic processing.

Related Manuscripts

Diependaele, K., Morris, J., Serota, R. M., Bertrand, D., & Grainger, J. (2013). Breaking boundaries: Letter transpositions and morphological processing. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28(7), 9881003.

Morris, J., Porter, J. H., Grainger, J., & Holcomb, P. J. (2011). Effects of lexical status and morphological complexity in masked priming: An ERP study. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26(4-6), 558-599.

Morris, J., Grainger, J. & Holcomb, P. J. (2008). An electrophysiological investigation of early effects of masked morphological priming. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23, 1021-1056.

Morris, J., Frank, T., Grainger, J. & Holcomb, P. J. (2007). Semantic transparency and masked morphological priming: An ERP investigation. Psychophysiology, 44(4), 506-521.