Auditory and visual ERP correlates of gender agreement processing in Dutch and Italian

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    We used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure changes in the brain’s electrical potential while reading or listening to sentences. Previous research in the field has established a link between certain language processes and distinct brain responses (components). For example, when a participant reads a sentence that does not make much sense (e.g., The turtle outran a croquette.), we are able to measure a negative voltage change some 400 ms after the implausible word. Our brain reacts in a similar way to grammatical mistakes (e.g., *de boek or *het tafel), but this time there are usually two responses: one negative at 300 ms, and one positive at 500 ms. This study focused on grammatical language processing.

    We studied whether the positive component becomes bigger with the increase in the complexity of the mistake. For example, if you hear or read het tafel, you may assume that the speaker wanted to say de tafel. But if you hear de boek, you are not immediately sure whether the speaker meant het boek or de boeken. Once again, we confirmed that grammatical violations elicit the positive component. Importantly, we showed that the increase in ambiguity (e.g., de boek) also increases the size of the positive component. Finally, we showed that there is a difference in results when stimuli are read or listened to. Therefore, we suggest that the most informative results are obtained when data are collected from both reading and listening and interpreted together.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Bastiaanse, Yvonne, Supervisor
    • Miceli, Gabriele, Supervisor, External person
    Award date6-Apr-2017
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-9639-2
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9638-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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