Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 443–452 | Cite as

Differences in Noun and Verb Processing in Lexical Decision Cannot be Attributed to Word Form and Morphological Complexity Alone

  • Christina KauschkeEmail author
  • Prisca Stenneken
Original Article


It has been suggested that the effect of word category in noun and verb processing reflects typical word class properties, which can be characterized in terms of semantic as well as syntactic and morphological features. The present study is aimed at differentiating and discussing the relative contribution of these aspects with a main focus on syntactic and morphological processing. Experiment 1 established a processing advantage for nouns in German visual lexical decision, using nouns denoting biological and man-made objects as compared to transitive and intransitive verbs. Experiment 2 showed that the noun advantage persisted even when the morphological differences between word categories were reduced by using identical suffixes in nouns and verbs. Overall results suggest that the processing differences cannot be reduced to variables such as frequency, word form, or morphological complexity. Reaction time differences between transitive and intransitive verbs strengthen the role of syntactic information. In line with previous accounts the observed effects are discussed in terms of a category-specific combination of linguistic parameters.


Noun and verb processing Visual lexical decision Morphological processing Biological and manmade objects Transitive and intransitive verbs Noun advantage 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of German LinguisticsPhilipps-Universität MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Clinical Linguistic UnitUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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