Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
This study investigates functional interpretations of left anterior negativities (LANs), a language-related electroencephalogram effect that has been found for syntactic and morphological violations. We focus on three possible interpretations of LANs caused by the replacement of irregular affixes with regular affixes: misapplication of morphological rules, mismatch of the presented form with analogy-based expectations, and mismatch of the presented form with stored representations. Event-related brain potentials were recorded during the visual presentation of existing and novel Dutch compounds. Existing compounds contained correct or replaced interfixes (dame + s + salons > damessalons vs. *dame + n + salons > *damensalons “women's hairdresser salons”), whereas novel Dutch compounds contained interfixes that were either supported or not supported by analogy to similar existing compounds (kruidenkelken vs. ?kruidskelken “herb chalices”); earlier studies had shown that interfixes are selected by analogy instead of rules. All compounds were presented with correct or incorrect regular plural suffixes (damessalons vs. *damessalonnen). Replacing suffixes or interfixes in existing compounds both led to increased (L)ANs between 400 and 700 msec without any evidence for different scalp distributions for interfixes and suffixes. There was no evidence for a negativity when manipulating the analogical support for interfixes in novel compounds. Together with earlier studies, these results suggest that LANs had been caused by the mismatch of the presented forms with stored forms. We discuss these findings with respect to the single/dual-route debate of morphology and LANs found for the misapplication of syntactic rules.