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The effects of phonological neighborhood density in childhood word production and recognition in Russian are opposite to English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2020

Center for Language and Brain, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Anastasiya LOPUKHINA
Center for Language and Brain, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia Vinogradov Institute of Russian Language, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
*Corresponding author: Vardan Arutiunian, Center for Language and Brain, National Research University Higher School of Economics, 21/4 Staraya Basmannaya Str., 105066Moscow, Russia. E-mail:


This study investigates how phonological neighborhood density (PND) affects word production and recognition in 4-to-6-year-old Russian children in comparison to adults. Previous experiments with English-speaking adults showed that a dense neighborhood facilitated word production but inhibited recognition whereas a sparse neighborhood inhibited production but facilitated recognition. Importantly, these effects are not universal because a reverse PND pattern was found in Spanish-speaking adults. Probably, PND effects depend on the morphological properties of language.

This study focuses on PND effects in word production and recognition in terms of facilitation and inhibition in Russian. Our results are consistent with those in Spanish: Russian-speaking adults produced words with dense neighborhoods more slowly and recognized them faster than words with sparse neighborhoods. Russian children showed the same PND effect in recognition and no effect was found in production. The findings support the hypothesis that PND effects in word production and recognition are influenced by the morphological system of language.

Brief Research Reports
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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