Spatiotemporal dynamics of the processing of spoken inflected and derived words: a combined EEG and MEG study

Alina Leminen*, Miika Leminen, Minna Lehtonen, Päivi Nevalainen, Sari Ylinen, Lilli Kimppa, Christian Sannemann, Jyrki P. Mäkelä, Teija Kujala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The spatiotemporal dynamics of the neural processing of spoken morphologically complex words are still an open issue. In the current study, we investigated the time course and neural sources of spoken inflected and derived words using simultaneously recorded electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) responses. Ten participants (native speakers) listened to inflected, derived, and monomorphemic Finnish words and judged their acceptability. EEG and MEG responses were time-locked to both the stimulus onset and the critical point (suffix onset for complex words, uniqueness point for monomorphemic words). The ERP results showed that inflected words elicited a larger left-lateralized negativity than derived and monomorphemic words approximately 200 ms after the critical point. Source modeling of MEG responses showed one bilateral source in the superior temporal area similar to 100 ms after the critical point, with derived words eliciting stronger source amplitudes than inflected and monomorphemic words in the right hemisphere. Source modeling also showed two sources in the temporal cortex approximately 200 ms after the critical point. There, inflected words showed a more systematic pattern in source locations and elicited temporally distinct source activity in comparison to the derived word condition. The current results provide electrophysiological evidence for at least partially distinct cortical processing of spoken inflected and derived words. In general, the results support models of morphological processing stating that during the recognition of inflected words, the constituent morphemes are accessed separately. With regard to derived words, stem and suffix morphemes might be at least initially activated along with the whole word representation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • auditory
  • morphology
  • MEG
  • infected
  • derived
  • ERP
  • lexicon

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