Hagoort, P., Brown, C. M., & Groothusen, J. (1993). The syntactic positive shift (SPS) as an ERP measure of syntactic processing. Language and Cognitive Processes,8, 439-483. doi:10.1080/01690969308407585.
This paper presents event-related brain potential (ERP) data from an experiment on syntactic processing. Subjects read individual sentences containing one of three different kinds of violations of the syntactic constraints of Dutch. The ERP results provide evidence for M electrophysiological response to syntactic processing that is qualitatively different from established ERP responses to semantic processing. We refer to this electro-physiological manifestation of parsing as the Syntactic Positive Shift (SPS). The SPS was observed in an experiment in which no task demands, other than to read the input, were imposed on the subjects. The pattern of responses to the different kinds of syntactic violations suggests that the SPS indicates the impossibility for the parser to assign the preferred structure to an incoming string of words, irrespective of the specific syntactic nature of this preferred structure. The implications of these findings for further research on parsing are discussed.