A central question in psycholinguistic research is when various types of information involved in speaking (conceptual/ semantic, syntactic, and phonological information) become available during the speech planning process. Competing theories attempt to distinguish between parallel and serial models. Here, we investigated the relative time courses of conceptual and syntactic encoding in a tacit picture-naming task via event-related brain potential (ERP) recordings. Participants viewed pictures and made dual-choice go/no-go decisions based on conceptual features (whether the depicted item was heavier or lighter than 500 g) and syntactic features (whether the picture's German name had feminine or masculine syntactic gender). In support of serial models of speech production, both the lateralized readiness potential, or LRP (related to response preparation), and the N200 (related to response inhibition) measures indicated that conceptual processing began approximately 80 msec earlier than syntactic processing.

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