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Article

Rapid acquisition of novel written word-forms: ERP evidence

Behavioral and Brain Functions. 2020. Vol. 16. No. 11. P. 1-17.

Background:Novel word acquisition is generally believed to be a rapid process, essential for ensuring a flexible and efficient communication system; at least in spoken language, learners are able to construct memory traces for new linguistic stimuli after just a few exposures. However, such rapid word learning has not been systematically found in visual domain, with different confounding factors obscuring the orthographic learning of novel words. This study explored the changes in human brain activity occurring online, during a brief training with novel written word‑forms using a silent reading taskResults:Single‑trial, cluster‑based random permutation analysis revealed that training caused an extremely fast (after just one repetition) and stable facilitation in novel word processing, reflected in the modulation of P200 and N400 components, possibly indicating rapid dynamics at early and late stages of the lexical processing. Furthermore, neural source estimation of these effects revealed the recruitment of brain areas involved in orthographic and lexico‑seman‑tic processing, respectively.Conclusions:These results suggest the formation of neural memory traces for novel written word‑forms after a mini‑mal exposure to them even in the absence of a semantic reference, resembling the rapid learning processes known to occur in spoken language.