Against all odds: exhaustive activation in lexical access of verb complementation options

Einat Shetreet*, Tal Linzen, Naama Friedmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various findings suggest that once a verb is accessed, all of its complementation options are activated. This fMRI study examined whether all the complementation options are activated even in contexts where this seems unnecessary. We examined whether introducing the selected complement prior to the verb (in topicalised sentences) still involves the activation of all complementation options. We performed ROI analyses in the left STG, a brain region that has been linked to the processing of argument structure and the number of complementation options. In this region, multiple-option verbs elicited greater activations compared with one-option verbs, both when the complement appeared after the verb and when it appeared pre-verbally. This suggests encapsulated lexical retrieval of the verb, which involves exhaustive activation of all its complementation options when the verb is accessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1206-1214
Number of pages9
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2016


  • Argument structure
  • STG
  • fMRI
  • sentence comprehension
  • word order variation


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