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Explorations of Beta-band Neural Oscillations During Language Comprehension: Sentence Processing and Beyond

How does the human brain coordinate different sources of information during reading comprehension, and what is the precise role of beta-band neural oscillations in this process? Ashley Lewis will defend his PhD thesis on this topic, May 8th, at 14:30 at the Aula of the Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Explorations of Beta-band Neural Oscillations During Language Comprehension: Sentence Processing and Beyond

When we read, multiple different sources of information need to be sampled, coordinated, and integrated in order to construct meaning out of text, and in order to interpret the message a writer intends to convey.  How the human brain supports this dynamic information processing is still an open question, and uncovering the neural mechanisms contributing to reading comprehension is currently one of the most exciting research topics in Psycholinguistics, with potentially far reaching implications for the treatment of reading disorders and the design of reading materials and environments.  One proposal for how the brain achieves this feat is by passing information between different populations of neurons in a frequency-specific manner, so that information sent by a regions oscillating at a particular frequency can only be decoded by other regions oscillating in synchrony at the same frequency.

 

One popular proposal suggests that processing syntactic information while reading sentences is supported by neural oscillations in the beta frequency range (13-30 Hz). In his thesis, Lewis investigates the extent to which these beta oscillations are specific to syntactic processing during reading comprehension. Using electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), he demonstrates that beta oscillations are sensitive to information about how sentences are combined within a text, and that the beta oscillations of non-native speakers of a language are also sensitive to syntactic information during sentence comprehension. Importantly, he demonstrates that factors other than syntactic processing can also influence beta oscillations during sentence reading, suggesting a more domain-general role for beta oscillations in language comprehension.

 

Further Information

  • Ashley Lewis will defend his thesis on Monday, May 8th at 14:30 at the Aula of the Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • The thesis appears in the MPI Series in Psycholinguistics (no. 123).

 

Neurobiology of Language

What is the neurobiological infrastructure for the uniquely human capacity for language? The focus of the Neurobiology of Language Department is on the study of language production, language comprehension, and language acquisition from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Read more...

Director: Peter Hagoort

Secretary: Carolin Lorenz

 

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