René Terporten

Language processing requires dynamic adaptations in underlying brain activity. Brain networks are updated online while new input is being processed, combining individual word meanings into an overarching semantic context which spans the whole utterance. During this process, a context representation is compared and updated on a moment-to-moment basis. The bias provided by the momentarily established context alters subsequent linguistic processing. In a series of experiments, I go beyond the processing of individual word meanings and focus on the influence of semantic context from sentence reading. I make use of state-of-the-art electrophysiological measurements which allow the tracking of brain activity in milliseconds. By manipulating the degree to which upcoming language input can be inferred from previous sentence context, I keep track of how functional brain networks adapt to the changes in context. Together with Anne Kösem, Yingying Tan, Karin Heidlmayr, Eleanor Callaghan and Jan-Mathijs Schoffelen, we were able to show that a sentence’s context not only has a profound effect on core networks that relate to language processing, but also on more general cognitive control networks. Our research, therefore, highlights the significance of dynamic interactions between different cognitive systems during language processing.

Share this page