Dynamics of nominal classification systems in language processing

Shiao hui Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive neuroscience research on conceptual systems mostly focused on concrete, universal semantic categories, whereas abstract, language-specific categorisation systems were rarely explored. This ERP study aimed to examine the organisation of conceptual systems from a temporal perspective by exploring Mandarin classifier and class term systems. Subjects judged the congruity of a classifier-noun pair, where the noun was with/without a class term. The results showed that classifier and class term information were activated and interacted with each other early in processing (P2: 150–250 ms), but only the classifier information was selected during the computation of classifier-noun agreement (N400: 350–500 ms; P600: 600–800 ms). After passing agreement computation, these two types of information interacted with each other again (800–1000 ms). The dynamics between these two systems revealed that concepts are flexible with dissociable components and that a convergence stage might be reached around 350 ms for processing classifier-noun agreement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-685
Number of pages15
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Nominal classification system
  • classifier
  • concept flexibility
  • conceptual system
  • convergence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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