01/10/2012 Medicine Psychology
DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.06.007 SemanticScholar ID: 14191276 MAG: 2155499572

Not all ambiguous words are created equal: An EEG investigation of homonymy and polysemy

Publication Summary

Event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate the time-course of meaning activation of different types of ambiguous words. Unbalanced homonymous (‘‘pen’’), balanced homonymous (‘‘panel’’), metaphorically polysemous (‘‘lip’’), and metonymically polysemous words (‘‘rabbit’’) were used in a visual single-word priming delayed lexical decision task. The theoretical distinction between homonymy and polysemy was reflected in the N400 component. Homonymous words (balanced and unbalanced) showed effects of dominance/frequency with reduced N400 effects predominantly observed for dominant meanings. Polysemous words (metaphors and metonymies) showed effects of core meaning representation with both dominant and subordinate meanings showing reduced N400 effects. Furthermore, the division within polysemy, into metaphor and metonymy, was supported. Differences emerged in meaning activation patterns with the subordinate meanings of metaphor inducing differentially reduced N400 effects moving from left hemisphere electrode sites to right hemisphere electrode sites, potentially suggesting increased involvement of the right hemisphere in the processing of figurative meaning.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Ekaterini Klepousniotou

Dr. Ekaterini Klepousniotou

University of Leeds - Associate Professor

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