Syntactic and semantic restrictions on morphological recomposition: MEG evidence from Greek

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HighlightsFusiform gyrus is involved in form-based decomposition at ˜170 ms.Syntactic licensing occurs at ˜200–300 ms in the temporal lobe.Temporal lobe effects suggest that stem look up precedes whole-item processing.The orbitofrontal regions have a primary role in semantic composition.Argument structure and syntactic category constraints are processed separately.Complex morphological processing has been extensively studied in the past decades. However, most of this work has either focused on only certain steps involved in this process, or it has been conducted on a few languages, like English. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the spatiotemporal cortical processing profile of the distinct steps previously reported in the literature, from decomposition to re-composition of morphologically complex items, in a relatively understudied language, Greek. Using magnetoencephalography, we confirm the role of the fusiform gyrus in early, form-based morphological decomposition, we relate the syntactic licensing of stem-suffix combinations to the ventral visual processing stream, somewhat independent from lexical access for the stem, and we further elucidate the role of orbitofrontal regions in semantic composition. Thus, the current study offers the most comprehensive test to date of visual morphological processing and additional, crosslinguistic validation of the steps involved in it.

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