Morphological sensitivity generalizes across modalities

Chen Gafni, Maya Yablonski, Michal Ben-Shachar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A growing body of psycholinguistic research suggests that visual and auditory word recognition involve morphological decomposition: Individual morphemes are extracted and lexically accessed when participants are presented with multi-morphemic stimuli. This view is supported by the Morpheme Interference Effect (MIE), where responses to pseudowords that contain real morphemes are slower and less accurate than responses to pseudowords that contain invented morphemes. The MIE was previously demonstrated primarily for visually presented stimuli. Here, we examine whether individuals' sensitivity to morphological structure generalizes across modalities. Participants performed a lexical decision task on visually and auditorily presented Hebrew stimuli, including pseudowords derived from real or invented roots. The results show robust MIEs in both modalities. We further show that visual MIE is consistently stronger than auditory MIE, both at the group level and at the individual level. Finally, the data show a significant correlation between visual and auditory MIEs at the individual level. These findings suggest that the MIE reflects a general sensitivity to morphological structure, which varies considerably across individuals, but is largely consistent across modalities within individuals. Thus, we propose that the MIE captures an important aspect of language processing, rather than a property specific to visual word recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-67
Number of pages31
JournalMental Lexicon
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© John Benjamins Publishing Company


  • Auditory word recognition
  • Derivational morphology
  • Hebrew
  • Morpheme interference effect
  • Orthographic processing
  • Root decomposition


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