The aim of these experiments was to compare conceptual priming for linguistic and for a homogeneous class of nonlinguistic sounds, impact sounds, by using both behavioral (percentage errors and RTs) and electrophysiological measures (ERPs). Experiment 1 aimed at studying the neural basis of impact sound categorization by creating typical and ambiguous sounds from different material categories (wood, metal, and glass). Ambiguous sounds were associated with slower RTs and larger N280, smaller P350/P550 components, and larger negative slow wave than typical impact sounds. Thus, ambiguous sounds were more difficult to categorize than typical sounds. A category membership task was used in Experiment 2. Typical sounds were followed by sounds from the same or from a different category or by ambiguous sounds. Words were followed by words, pseudowords, or nonwords. Error rate was highest for ambiguous sounds and for pseudowords and both elicited larger N400-like components than same typical sounds and words. Moreover, both different typical sounds and nonwords elicited P300 components. These results are discussed in terms of similar conceptual priming effects for nonlinguistic and linguistic stimuli.

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