Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Continuing Commentary
Commentary on Friedemann Pulvermüller (1999). Words in the brain's language. BBS 22(2)253–336.

Perceptual fluency and lexical access for function versus content words

Sidney J. Segalowitz a1 and Korri Lane a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada


By examining single-word reading times (in full sentences read for meaning), we show that (1) function words are accessed faster than content words, independent of perceptual characteristics; (2) previous failures to show this involved problems of frequency range and task used; and (3) these differences in lexical access are related to perceptual fluency. We relate these findings to issues in the literature on event-related potentials (ERPs) and neurolinguistics.