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Processing of task-irrelevant words of different frequency values

a visual mismatch negativity study

Wei, Daweia,b; Gillon Dowens, Margaretb

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001212

This study examined electrophysiological correlates of early and automatic word access. Chinese single-character words of high frequency and low frequency were peripherally presented in an oddball paradigm. Participants were instructed to carry out a centrally presented nonlinguistic colour-tracking task and ignore the lexical stimuli presented on both sides. Early visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) effects at 120–150 and 200–300 ms were elicited only by high-frequency characters, whereas low-frequency characters yielded vMMN only after 300 ms. This contrast of vMMN effects indicating lexical processing in an attention-deprived condition is suggested to result from stronger memory traces for high-frequency characters in comparison with low-frequency characters.

aDepartment of English, School of Foreign Languages, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou

bCognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China

Correspondence to Dawei Wei, PhD, Department of English, School of Foreign Languages, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou 730070, China Tel: +86 150 582 50986; fax: +86 931 495 6152; e-mail:

Received October 27, 2018

Accepted January 25, 2019

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