Determining the role of phonology in silent reading using event-related brain potentials
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The goal of the present study was to delineate phonology's role in silent reading using event-related brain potential (ERP) techniques. Terminal endings of high cloze sentences were manipulated in four conditions in which the terminal word was: (1) the high cloze ending and thus orthographically, phonologically and semantically congruent (e.g., The gambler had a streak of bad luck.); (2) a pseudohomophone that was orthographically incongruent, but was phonologically congruent to the anticipated ending (e.g., The ship disappeared into the thick phog [fog].); (3) a word that was orthographically, phonologically and semantically incongruent to expectations (e.g., The dog chased the cat up the Queen [tree].); or (4) a nonword and consequently orthographically, phonologically and semantically incongruent to expectations (e.g., The gas station is about two miles down the bole [road].). A N270 was elicited by orthographically incongruent words and nonwords (conditions 2, 3 and 4), likely reflecting violations of orthographic form expectations, while the presence of the N400 to semantically incongruent words and nonwords (conditions 3 and 4) reflected violations of semantic expectations. The relative absence of the N400 response to pseudohomophones (condition 3) indicates that integrating word meaning with sentential context is influenced by the phonological representation of the presented letter string. The implication of these results for theories of word recognition is discussed.