The processing of animacy in noun-classifier combinations in reading Korean: An ERP study

Liling Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A key issue in the area of language processing is the mechanism underlying the processing of animacy information during sentence comprehension. In this ERP study, we investigated the temporal dynamics of animacy processing in Korean noun-classifier combinations that do not involve verb-noun thematic processing. We manipulated semantic and animacy relationships between nouns and their following classifiers, and there were three conditions in our experiment: (a) correct, (b) semantic mismatch, or (c) animacy mismatch. The results showed that both noun-classifier mismatch conditions evoked a biphasic N400-P600 effect, but there was no P600 difference between the two mismatch conditions. However, further analyses indicated that the animacy mismatch condition evoked a less negative-going waveform than the semantic mismatch condition in the 400–500 ms time window. Our findings suggest that the brain processes animacy information differently from other semantic features in noun-classifier combinations in Korean, and additional animacy mismatch blocked further fine-grained semantic processing. The ERP evidence also suggests that the role of animacy in sentence comprehension varies according to language type and sentence structure. Whether animacy participates in the construction of verb-noun thematic relationships in sentences may be an important factor that influences the neural patterns of animacy processing in language comprehension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2018


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