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Keywords:

  • ERPs;
  • Word priming;
  • Lexical association

Abstract

Associative processing in the cerebral hemispheres was examined using ERPs and visual half-field (VF) methods. Associative strength was manipulated using asymmetrically associated pairs: viewed in one order (forward), there was a strong prime-to-target association, but in the backward order, predictability was weak. N400 priming was greater for forward than backward pairs in both VFs and not different across VF, suggesting similar semantic representations and automatic meaning activation in the two hemispheres. However, a frontal P2 enhancement for forward pairs restricted to the LH suggests that it uses context to predict likely upcoming words. Also, greater late positive complex priming for backward pairs in the LH than the RH reveals a LH advantage for strategically reshaping meaning activation for weakly related and/or non-canonically ordered pairs. The results link asymmetries in word processing with those observed at the sentence level.