The Time Course of Verb Processing in Dutch Sentences

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The verb has traditionally been characterized as the central element in a sentence. Nevertheless, the exact role of the verb during the actual ongoing comprehension of a sentence as it unfolds in time remains largely unknown. This paper reports the results of two Cross-Modal Lexical Priming (CMLP) experiments detailing the pattern of verb priming during on-line processing of Dutch sentences. Results are contrasted with data from a third CMLP experiment on priming of nouns in similar sentences. It is demonstrated that the meaning of a matrix verb remains active throughout the entire matrix clause, while this is not the case for the meaning of a subject head noun. Activation of the meaning of the verb only dissipates upon encountering a clear signal as to the start of a new clause.

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