Publications
Displaying 1 - 100 of 750
  • Araújo, S., Reis, A., Faísca, L., & Petersson, K. M. (in press). Brain sensitivity to words and the “word recognition potential”. In D. Marques, & J. H. Toscano (Eds.), De las neurociencias a la neuropsicologia: el estúdio del cerebro humano. Barranquilla, Colombia: Corporación Universitaria Reformada.
  • Ergin, R., Meir, I., Ilkbasaran, D., Padden, C., & Jackendoff, R. (in press). Argument Structure of Central Taurus Sign Language. Sign Language & Linguistics.
  • Hagoort, P. (in press). It is the facts, stupid. In J. Brockmann (Ed.), What do you consider the most interesting recent [scientific] news? What makes it important?. Palmyra, VA: Maven Press.
  • Hagoort, P., & Beckmann, C. F. (in press). Key issues and future directions: the neural architecture for language. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human Language: From Genes and Brains to Behavior. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P. (in press). Taal. In Van den Heuvel, Vander Werf, Schmand, Sabbe, & Van Broekhoven (Eds.), Handboek neurowetenschappen voor de klinische psychiatrie. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Uitgeverij de Tijdstroom.
  • Hagoort, P. (in press). Introduction. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human Language: From Genes and Brains to Behavior. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P. (Ed.). (in press). Human Language: From Genes and Brains to Behavior. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Barr, D. J., Bartolozzi, F., Busch-Moreno, S., Darley, E., Donaldson, D. I., Ferguson, H. J., Fu, X., Heyselaar, E., Huettig, F., Husband, E. M., Ito, A., Kazanina, N., Kogan, V., Kohút, Z., Kulakova, E., Mézière, D., Politzer-Ahles, S., Rousselet, G., Rueschemeyer, S.-A., Segaert, K., Tuomainen, J., & Von Grebmer Zu Wolfsthurn, S. (in press). Dissociable effects of prediction and integration during language comprehension: Evidence from a large-scale study using brain potentials. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences.

    Abstract

    Composing sentence meaning is easier for predictable words than for unpredictable words. Are predictable words genuinely predicted, or simply more plausible and therefore easier to integrate with sentence context? We addressed this persistent and fundamental question using data from a recent, large-scale (N = 334) replication study, by investigating the effects of word predictability and sentence plausibility on the N400, the brain’s electrophysiological index of semantic processing. A spatiotemporally fine-grained mixed-effects multiple regression analysis revealed overlapping effects of predictability and plausibility on the N400, albeit with distinct spatiotemporal profiles. Our results challenge the view that the predictability-dependent N400 reflects the effects of either prediction or integration, and suggest that semantic facilitation of predictable words arises from a cascade of processes that activate and integrate word meaning with context into a sentence-level meaning.

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  • Ostarek, M., & Huettig, F. (in press). Six challenges for embodiment research. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

    Abstract

    20 years after Barsalou's seminal perceptual symbols paper (Barsalou, 1999), embodied cognition, the notion that cognition involves simulations of sensory, motor, or affective states, has moved in status from an outlandish proposal advanced by a fringe movement in psychology to a mainstream position adopted by large numbers of researchers in the psychological and cognitive (neuro)sciences. While it has generated highly productive work in the cognitive sciences as a whole, it had a particularly strong impact on research into language comprehension. The view of a mental lexicon based on symbolic word representations, which are arbitrarily linked to sensory aspects of their referents, for example, was generally accepted since the cognitive revolution in the 1950s. This has radically changed. Given the current status of embodiment as a main theory of cognition, it is somewhat surprising that a close look at the state of the affairs in the literature reveals that the debate about the nature of the processes involved in language comprehension is far from settled and key questions remain unanswered. We present several suggestions for a productive way forward.
  • Van Bergen, G., & Hogeweg, L. (in press). Managing interpersonal discourse expectations: a comparative analysis of contrastive discourse particles in Dutch. Linguistics.
  • Vanlangendonck, F., Peeters, D., Rüschemeyer, S.-A., & Dijkstra, T. (in press). Mixing the stimulus list in bilingual lexical decision turns cognate facilitation effects into mirrored inhibition effects. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

    Abstract

    To test the BIA+ and Multilink models’ accounts of how bilinguals process words with different degrees of cross-linguistic orthographic and semantic overlap, we conducted two experiments manipulating stimulus list composition. Dutch-English late bilinguals performed two English lexical decision tasks including the same set of cognates, interlingual homographs, English control words, and pseudowords. In one task, half of the pseudowords were replaced with Dutch words, requiring a ‘no’ response. This change from pure to mixed language list context was found to turn cognate facilitation effects into inhibition. Relative to control words, larger effects were found for cognate pairs with an increasing cross-linguistic form overlap. Identical cognates produced considerably larger effects than non-identical cognates, supporting their special status in the bilingual lexicon. Response patterns for different item types are accounted for in terms of the items’ lexical representation and their binding to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses in pure vs mixed lexical decision.
  • Basnakova, J. (2019). Beyond the language given: The neurobiological infrastructure for pragmatic inferencing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Bocanegra, B. R., Poletiek, F. H., Ftitache, B., & Clark, A. (2019). Intelligent problem-solvers externalize cognitive operations. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 136-142. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0509-y.

    Abstract

    Humans are nature’s most intelligent and prolific users of external props and aids (such as written texts, slide-rules and software packages). Here we introduce a method for investigating how people make active use of their task environment during problem-solving and apply this approach to the non-verbal Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test for fluid intelligence. We designed a click-and-drag version of the Raven test in which participants could create different external spatial configurations while solving the puzzles. In our first study, we observed that the click-and-drag test was better than the conventional static test at predicting academic achievement of university students. This pattern of results was partially replicated in a novel sample. Importantly, environment-altering actions were clustered in between periods of apparent inactivity, suggesting that problem-solvers were delicately balancing the execution of internal and external cognitive operations. We observed a systematic relationship between this critical phasic temporal signature and improved test performance. Our approach is widely applicable and offers an opportunity to quantitatively assess a powerful, although understudied, feature of human intelligence: our ability to use external objects, props and aids to solve complex problems.
  • Bosker, H. R., Van Os, M., Does, R., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Counting 'uhm's: how tracking the distribution of native and non-native disfluencies influences online language comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 189-202. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.02.006.

    Abstract

    Disfluencies, like 'uh', have been shown to help listeners anticipate reference to low-frequency words. The associative account of this 'disfluency bias' proposes that listeners learn to associate disfluency with low-frequency referents based on prior exposure to non-arbitrary disfluency distributions (i.e., greater probability of low-frequency words after disfluencies). However, there is limited evidence for listeners actually tracking disfluency distributions online. The present experiments are the first to show that adult listeners, exposed to a typical or more atypical disfluency distribution (i.e., hearing a talker unexpectedly say uh before high-frequency words), flexibly adjust their predictive strategies to the disfluency distribution at hand (e.g., learn to predict high-frequency referents after disfluency). However, when listeners were presented with the same atypical disfluency distribution but produced by a non-native speaker, no adjustment was observed. This suggests pragmatic inferences can modulate distributional learning, revealing the flexibility of, and constraints on, distributional learning in incremental language comprehension.
  • Fields, E., Weber, K., Ben, S., Nathaniel, D.-B., & Kuperberg, G. (2019). Functional MRI reveals evidence of a self-positivity bias in the medial prefrontal cortex during the comprehension of social vignettes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1093/scan/nsz035.

    Abstract

    A large literature in social neuroscience has associated the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) with the processing of self-related information. However, only recently have social neuroscience studies begun to consider the large behavioral literature showing a strong self-positivity bias, and these studies have mostly focused on its correlates during self-related judgments and decision making. We carried out a functional MRI (fMRI) study to ask whether the mPFC would show effects of the self-positivity bias in a paradigm that probed participants’ self-concept without any requirement of explicit self-judgment. We presented social vignettes that were either self-relevant or non-self-relevant with a neutral, positive, or negative outcome described in the second sentence. In previous work using event-related potentials, this paradigm has shown evidence of a self-positivity bias that influences early stages of semantically processing incoming stimuli. In the present fMRI study, we found evidence for this bias within the mPFC: an interaction between self-relevance and valence, with only positive scenarios showing a self vs other effect within the mPFC. We suggest that the mPFC may play a role in maintaining a positively-biased self-concept and discuss the implications of these findings for the social neuroscience of the self and the role of the mPFC.
  • Fitz, H., & Chang, F. (2019). Language ERPs reflect learning through prediction error propagation. Cognitive Psychology, 111, 15-52. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2019.03.002.

    Abstract

    Event-related potentials (ERPs) provide a window into how the brain is processing language. Here, we propose a theory that argues that ERPs such as the N400 and P600 arise as side effects of an error-based learning mechanism that explains linguistic adaptation and language learning. We instantiated this theory in a connectionist model that can simulate data from three studies on the N400 (amplitude modulation by expectancy, contextual constraint, and sentence position), five studies on the P600 (agreement, tense, word category, subcategorization and garden-path sentences), and a study on the semantic P600 in role reversal anomalies. Since ERPs are learning signals, this account explains adaptation of ERP amplitude to within-experiment frequency manipulations and the way ERP effects are shaped by word predictability in earlier sentences. Moreover, it predicts that ERPs can change over language development. The model provides an account of the sensitivity of ERPs to expectation mismatch, the relative timing of the N400 and P600, the semantic nature of the N400, the syntactic nature of the P600, and the fact that ERPs can change with experience. This approach suggests that comprehension ERPs are related to sentence production and language acquisition mechanisms
  • Flecken, M., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Can the English stand the bottle like the Dutch? Effects of relational categories on object perception. Cognitive Neuropsychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/02643294.2019.1607272.

    Abstract

    Does language influence how we perceive the world? This study examines how linguistic encoding of relational information by means of verbs implicitly affects visual processing, by measuring perceptual judgements behaviourally, and visual perception and attention in EEG. Verbal systems can vary cross-linguistically: Dutch uses posture verbs to describe inanimate object configurations (the bottle stands/lies on the table). In English, however, such use of posture verbs is rare (the bottle is on the table). Using this test case, we ask (1) whether previously attested language-perception interactions extend to more complex domains, and (2) whether differences in linguistic usage probabilities affect perception. We report three nonverbal experiments in which Dutch and English participants performed a picture-matching task. Prime and target pictures contained object configurations (e.g., a bottle on a table); in the critical condition, prime and target showed a mismatch in object position (standing/lying). In both language groups, we found similar responses, suggesting that probabilistic differences in linguistic encoding of relational information do not affect perception.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Eisner, F. (2019). Consistency influences altered auditory feedback processing. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1747021819838939.

    Abstract

    Previous research on the effect of perturbed auditory feedback in speech production has focused on two types of responses. In the short term, speakers generate compensatory motor commands in response to unexpected perturbations. In the longer term, speakers adapt feedforward motor programmes in response to feedback perturbations, to avoid future errors. The current study investigated the relation between these two types of responses to altered auditory feedback. Specifically, it was hypothesised that consistency in previous feedback perturbations would influence whether speakers adapt their feedforward motor programmes. In an altered auditory feedback paradigm, formant perturbations were applied either across all trials (the consistent condition) or only to some trials, whereas the others remained unperturbed (the inconsistent condition). The results showed that speakers’ responses were affected by feedback consistency, with stronger speech changes in the consistent condition compared with the inconsistent condition. Current models of speech-motor control can explain this consistency effect. However, the data also suggest that compensation and adaptation are distinct processes, which are not in line with all current models.
  • Heyselaar, E., & Segaert, K. (2019). Memory encoding of syntactic information involves domain-general attentional resources. Evidence from dual-task studies. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(6), 1285-1296. doi:10.1177/1747021818801249.

    Abstract

    We investigate the type of attention (domain-general or language-specific) used during syntactic processing. We focus on syntactic priming: In this task, participants listen to a sentence that describes a picture (prime sentence), followed by a picture the participants need to describe (target sentence). We measure the proportion of times participants use the syntactic structure they heard in the prime sentence to describe the current target sentence as a measure of syntactic processing. Participants simultaneously conducted a motion-object tracking (MOT) task, a task commonly used to tax domain-general attentional resources. We manipulated the number of objects the participant had to track; we thus measured participants’ ability to process syntax while their attention is not-, slightly-, or overly-taxed. Performance in the MOT task was significantly worse when conducted as a dual-task compared to as a single task. We observed an inverted U-shaped curve on priming magnitude when conducting the MOT task concurrently with prime sentences (i.e., memory encoding), but no effect when conducted with target sentences (i.e., memory retrieval). Our results illustrate how, during the encoding of syntactic information, domain-general attention differentially affects syntactic processing, whereas during the retrieval of syntactic information domain-general attention does not influence syntactic processing
  • Hulten, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Udden, J., Lam, N. H. L., & Hagoort, P. (2019). How the brain makes sense beyond the processing of single words – An MEG study. NeuroImage, 186, 586-594. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.035.

    Abstract

    Human language processing involves combinatorial operations that make human communication stand out in the animal kingdom. These operations rely on a dynamic interplay between the inferior frontal and the posterior temporal cortices. Using source reconstructed magnetoencephalography, we tracked language processing in the brain, in order to investigate how individual words are interpreted when part of sentence context. The large sample size in this study (n = 68) allowed us to assess how event-related activity is associated across distinct cortical areas, by means of inter-areal co-modulation within an individual. We showed that, within 500 ms of seeing a word, the word's lexical information has been retrieved and unified with the sentence context. This does not happen in a strictly feed-forward manner, but by means of co-modulation between the left posterior temporal cortex (LPTC) and left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC), for each individual word. The co-modulation of LIFC and LPTC occurs around 400 ms after the onset of each word, across the progression of a sentence. Moreover, these core language areas are supported early on by the attentional network. The results provide a detailed description of the temporal orchestration related to single word processing in the context of ongoing language.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S1053811918321165-mmc1.pdf
  • De Kleijn, R., Wijnen, M., & Poletiek, F. H. (2019). The effect of context-dependent information and sentence constructions on perceived humanness of an agent in a Turing test. Knowledge-Based Systems, 163, 794-799. doi:10.1016/j.knosys.2018.10.006.

    Abstract

    In a Turing test, a judge decides whether their conversation partner is either a machine or human. What cues does the judge use to determine this? In particular, are presumably unique features of human language actually perceived as humanlike? Participants rated the humanness of a set of sentences that were manipulated for grammatical construction: linear right-branching or hierarchical center-embedded and their plausibility with regard to world knowledge. We found that center-embedded sentences are perceived as less humanlike than right-branching sentences and more plausible sentences are regarded as more humanlike. However, the effect of plausibility of the sentence on perceived humanness is smaller for center-embedded sentences than for right-branching sentences. Participants also rated a conversation with either correct or incorrect use of the context by the agent. No effect of context use was found. Also, participants rated a full transcript of either a real human or a real chatbot, and we found that chatbots were reliably perceived as less humanlike than real humans, in line with our expectation. We did, however, find individual differences between chatbots and humans.
  • Kochari, A., & Flecken, M. (2019). Lexical prediction in language comprehension: A replication study of grammatical gender effects in Dutch. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(2), 239-253. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1524500.

    Abstract

    An important question in predictive language processing is the extent to which prediction effects can reliably be measured on pre-nominal material (e.g. articles before nouns). Here, we present a large sample (N = 58) close replication of a study by Otten and van Berkum (2009). They report ERP modulations in relation to the predictability of nouns in sentences, measured on gender-marked Dutch articles. We used nearly identical materials, procedures, and data analysis steps. We fail to replicate the original effect, but do observe a pattern consistent with the original data. Methodological differences between our replication and the original study that could potentially have contributed to the diverging results are discussed. In addition, we discuss the suitability of Dutch gender-marked determiners as a test-case for future studies of pre-activation of lexical items.
  • Kuperberg, G., Weber, K., Delaney-Busch, N., Ustine, C., Stillerman, B., Hämäläinen, M., & Lau, E. (2019). Multimodal neuroimaging evidence for looser lexico-semantic connections in schizophrenia. Neuropsychologia, 124, 337-349. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.10.024.

    Abstract

    It has been hypothesized that schizophrenia is characterized by overly broad automatic activity within lexico-semantic networks. We used two complementary neuroimaging techniques, Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), in combination with a highly automatic indirect semantic priming paradigm, to spatiotemporally localize this abnormality in the brain. Eighteen people with schizophrenia and 20 demographically-matched control participants viewed target words (“bell”) preceded by directly related (“church”), indirectly related (“priest”), or unrelated (“pants”) prime words in MEG and fMRI sessions. To minimize top-down processing, the prime was masked, the target appeared only 140ms after prime onset, and participants simply monitored for words within a particular semantic category that appeared in filler trials. Both techniques revealed a significantly larger automatic indirect priming effect in people with schizophrenia than in control participants. MEG temporally localized this enhanced effect to the N400 time window (300-500ms) — the critical stage of accessing meaning from words. fMRI spatially localized the effect to the left temporal fusiform cortex, which plays a role in mapping of orthographic word-form on to meaning. There was no evidence of an enhanced automatic direct semantic priming effect in the schizophrenia group. These findings provide converging neural evidence for abnormally broad highly automatic lexico-semantic activity in schizophrenia. We argue that, rather than arising from an unconstrained spread of automatic activation across semantic memory, this broader automatic lexico-semantic activity stems from looser connections between the form and meaning of words.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S0028393218307310-mmc1.docx
  • Mak, M., & Willems, R. M. (2019). Mental simulation during literary reading: Individual differences revealed with eye-tracking. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(4), 511-535. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1552007.

    Abstract

    People engage in simulation when reading literary narratives. In this study, we tried to pinpoint how different kinds of simulation (perceptual and motor simulation, mentalising) affect reading behaviour. Eye-tracking (gaze durations, regression probability) and questionnaire data were collected from 102 participants, who read three literary short stories. In a pre-test, 90 additional participants indicated which parts of the stories were high in one of the three kinds of simulation-eliciting content. The results show that motor simulation reduces gaze duration (faster reading), whereas perceptual simulation and mentalising increase gaze duration (slower reading). Individual differences in the effect of simulation on gaze duration were found, which were related to individual differences in aspects of story world absorption and story appreciation. These findings suggest fundamental differences between different kinds of simulation and confirm the role of simulation in absorption and appreciation.
  • Mongelli, V., Meijs, E. L., Van Gaal, S., & Hagoort, P. (2019). No language unification without neural feedback: How awareness affects sentence processing. Neuroimage, 202: 116063. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116063.

    Abstract

    How does the human brain combine a finite number of words to form an infinite variety of sentences? According to the Memory, Unification and Control (MUC) model, sentence processing requires long-range feedback from the left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC) to left posterior temporal cortex (LPTC). Single word processing however may only require feedforward propagation of semantic information from sensory regions to LPTC. Here we tested the claim that long-range feedback is required for sentence processing by reducing visual awareness of words using a masking technique. Masking disrupts feedback processing while leaving feedforward processing relatively intact. Previous studies have shown that masked single words still elicit an N400 ERP effect, a neural signature of semantic incongruency. However, whether multiple words can be combined to form a sentence under reduced levels of awareness is controversial. To investigate this issue, we performed two experiments in which we measured electroencephalography (EEG) while 40 subjects performed a masked priming task. Words were presented either successively or simultaneously, thereby forming a short sentence that could be congruent or incongruent with a target picture. This sentence condition was compared with a typical single word condition. In the masked condition we only found an N400 effect for single words, whereas in the unmasked condition we observed an N400 effect for both unmasked sentences and single words. Our findings suggest that long-range feedback processing is required for sentence processing, but not for single word processing.
  • Montero-Melis, G., & Jaeger, T. F. (2019). Changing expectations mediate adaptation in L2 production. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S1366728919000506.

    Abstract

    Native language (L1) processing draws on implicit expectations. An open question is whether non-native learners of a second language (L2) similarly draw on expectations, and whether these expectations are based on learners’ L1 or L2 knowledge. We approach this question by studying inverse preference effects on lexical encoding. L1 and L2 speakers of Spanish described motion events, while they were either primed to express path, manner, or neither. In line with other work, we find that L1 speakers adapted more strongly after primes that are unexpected in their L1. For L2 speakers, adaptation depended on their L2 proficiency: The least proficient speakers exhibited the inverse preference effect on adaptation based on what was unexpected in their L1; but the more proficient speakers were, the more they exhibited inverse preference effects based on what was unexpected in the L2. We discuss implications for L1 transfer and L2 acquisition.
  • Nieuwland, M. S. (2019). Do ‘early’ brain responses reveal word form prediction during language comprehension? A critical review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 96, 367-400. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.11.019.

    Abstract

    Current theories of language comprehension posit that readers and listeners routinely try to predict the meaning but also the visual or sound form of upcoming words. Whereas most neuroimaging studies on word rediction focus on the N400 ERP or its magnetic equivalent, various studies claim that word form prediction manifests itself in ‘early’, pre N400 brain responses (e.g., ELAN, M100, P130, N1, P2, N200/PMN, N250). Modulations of these components are often taken as evidence that word form prediction impacts early sensory processes (the sensory hypothesis) or, alternatively, the initial stages of word recognition before word meaning is integrated with sentence context (the recognition hypothesis). Here, I comprehensively review studies on sentence- or discourse-level language comprehension that report such effects of prediction on early brain responses. I conclude that the reported evidence for the sensory hypothesis or word recognition hypothesis is weak and inconsistent, and highlight the urgent need for replication of previous findings. I discuss the implications and challenges to current theories of linguistic prediction and suggest avenues for future research.
  • Ortega, G., Ozyurek, A., & Peeters, D. (2019). Iconic gestures serve as manual cognates in hearing second language learners of a sign language: An ERP study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xlm0000729.

    Abstract

    When learning a second spoken language, cognates, words overlapping in form and meaning with one’s native language, help breaking into the language one wishes to acquire. But what happens when the to-be-acquired second language is a sign language? We tested whether hearing nonsigners rely on their gestural repertoire at first exposure to a sign language. Participants saw iconic signs with high and low overlap with the form of iconic gestures while electrophysiological brain activity was recorded. Upon first exposure, signs with low overlap with gestures elicited enhanced positive amplitude in the P3a component compared to signs with high overlap. This effect disappeared after a training session. We conclude that nonsigners generate expectations about the form of iconic signs never seen before based on their implicit knowledge of gestures, even without having to produce them. Learners thus draw from any available semiotic resources when acquiring a second language, and not only from their linguistic experience
  • Peeters, D., Vanlangendonck, F., Rüschemeyer, S.-A., & Dijkstra, T. (2019). Activation of the language control network in bilingual visual word recognition. Cortex, 111, 63-73. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2018.10.012.

    Abstract

    Research into bilingual language production has identified a language control network that subserves control operations when bilinguals produce speech. Here we explore which brain areas are recruited for control purposes in bilingual language comprehension. In two experimental fMRI sessions, Dutch-English unbalanced bilinguals read words that differed in cross-linguistic form and meaning overlap across their two languages. The need for control operations was further manipulated by varying stimulus list composition across the two experimental sessions. We observed activation of the language control network in bilingual language comprehension as a function of both cross-linguistic form and meaning overlap and stimulus list composition. These findings suggest that the language control network is shared across bilingual language production and comprehension. We argue that activation of the language control network in language comprehension allows bilinguals to quickly and efficiently grasp the context-relevant meaning of words.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S0010945218303459-mmc1.docx
  • Peeters, D. (2019). Virtual reality: A game-changing method for the language sciences. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26(3), 894-900. doi:10.3758/s13423-019-01571-3.

    Abstract

    This paper introduces virtual reality as an experimental method for the language sciences and provides a review of recent studies using the method to answer fundamental, psycholinguistic research questions. It is argued that virtual reality demonstrates that ecological validity and experimental control should not be conceived of as two extremes on a continuum, but rather as two orthogonal factors. Benefits of using virtual reality as an experimental method include that in a virtual environment, as in the real world, there is no artificial spatial divide between participant and stimulus. Moreover, virtual reality experiments do not necessarily have to include a repetitive trial structure or an unnatural experimental task. Virtual agents outperform experimental confederates in terms of the consistency and replicability of their behaviour, allowing for reproducible science across participants and research labs. The main promise of virtual reality as a tool for the experimental language sciences, however, is that it shifts theoretical focus towards the interplay between different modalities (e.g., speech, gesture, eye gaze, facial expressions) in dynamic and communicative real-world environments, complementing studies that focus on one modality (e.g. speech) in isolation.
  • Preisig, B., Sjerps, M. J., Kösem, A., & Riecke, L. (2019). Dual-site high-density 4Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation applied over auditory and motor cortical speech areas does not influence auditory-motor mapping. Brain Stimulation, 12(3), 775-777. doi:10.1016/j.brs.2019.01.007.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • Preisig, B., & Sjerps, M. J. (2019). Hemispheric specializations affect interhemispheric speech sound integration during duplex perception. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145, EL190-EL196. doi:10.1121/1.5092829.

    Abstract

    The present study investigated whether speech-related spectral information benefits from initially predominant right or left hemisphere processing. Normal hearing individuals categorized speech sounds composed of an ambiguous base (perceptually intermediate between /ga/ and /da/), presented to one ear, and a disambiguating low or high F3 chirp presented to the other ear. Shorter response times were found when the chirp was presented to the left ear than to the right ear (inducing initially right-hemisphere chirp processing), but no between-ear differences in strength of overall integration. The results are in line with the assumptions of a right hemispheric dominance for spectral processing.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Rasenberg, M., Rommers, J., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Anticipating predictability: an ERP investigation of expectation-managing discourse markers in dialogue comprehension. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1624789.

    Abstract

    n two ERP experiments, we investigated how the Dutch discourse markers eigenlijk “actually”, signalling expectation disconfirmation, and inderdaad “indeed”, signalling expectation confirmation, affect incremental dialogue comprehension. We investigated their effects on the processing of subsequent (un)predictable words, and on the quality of word representations in memory. Participants read dialogues with (un)predictable endings that followed a discourse marker (eigenlijk in Experiment 1, inderdaad in Experiment 2) or a control adverb. We found no strong evidence that discourse markers modulated online predictability effects elicited by subsequently read words. However, words following eigenlijk elicited an enhanced posterior post-N400 positivity compared with words following an adverb regardless of their predictability, potentially reflecting increased processing costs associated with pragmatically driven discourse updating. No effects of inderdaad were found on online processing, but inderdaad seemed to influence memory for (un)predictable dialogue endings. These findings nuance our understanding of how pragmatic markers affect incremental language comprehension.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1624789_sm6686.docx
  • Sakarias, M., & Flecken, M. (2019). Keeping the result in sight and mind: General cognitive principles and language-specific influences in the perception and memory of resultative events. Cognitive Science, 43(1), 1-30. doi:10.1111/cogs.12708.

    Abstract

    We study how people attend to and memorize endings of events that differ in the degree to which objects in them are affected by an action: Resultative events show objects that undergo a visually salient change in state during the course of the event (peeling a potato), and non‐resultative events involve objects that undergo no, or only partial state change (stirring in a pan). We investigate general cognitive principles, and potential language‐specific influences, in verbal and nonverbal event encoding and memory, across two experiments with Dutch and Estonian participants. Estonian marks a viewer's perspective on an event's result obligatorily via grammatical case on direct object nouns: Objects undergoing a partial/full change in state in an event are marked with partitive/accusative case, respectively. Therefore, we hypothesized increased saliency of object states and event results in Estonian speakers, as compared to speakers of Dutch. Findings show (a) a general cognitive principle of attending carefully to endings of resultative events, implying cognitive saliency of object states in event processing; (b) a language‐specific boost on attention and memory of event results under verbal task demands in Estonian speakers. Results are discussed in relation to theories of event cognition, linguistic relativity, and thinking for speaking.
  • Schoffelen, J.-M., Oostenveld, R., Lam, N. H. L., Udden, J., Hulten, A., & Hagoort, P. (2019). A 204-subject multimodal neuroimaging dataset to study language processing. Scientific Data, 6(1): 17. doi:10.1038/s41597-019-0020-y.

    Abstract

    This dataset, colloquially known as the Mother Of Unification Studies (MOUS) dataset, contains multimodal neuroimaging data that has been acquired from 204 healthy human subjects. The neuroimaging protocol consisted of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to derive information at high spatial resolution about brain anatomy and structural connections, and functional data during task, and at rest. In addition, magnetoencephalography (MEG) was used to obtain high temporal resolution electrophysiological measurements during task, and at rest. All subjects performed a language task, during which they processed linguistic utterances that either consisted of normal or scrambled sentences. Half of the subjects were reading the stimuli, the other half listened to the stimuli. The resting state measurements consisted of 5 minutes eyes-open for the MEG and 7 minutes eyes-closed for fMRI. The neuroimaging data, as well as the information about the experimental events are shared according to the Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) format. This unprecedented neuroimaging language data collection allows for the investigation of various aspects of the neurobiological correlates of language.
  • Schoot, L., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2019). Stronger syntactic alignment in the presence of an interlocutor. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 685. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00685.

    Abstract

    Speakers are influenced by the linguistic context: hearing one syntactic alternative leads to an increased chance that the speaker will repeat this structure in the subsequent utterance (i.e., syntactic priming, or structural persistence). Top-down influences, such as whether a conversation partner (or, interlocutor) is present, may modulate the degree to which syntactic priming occurs. In the current study, we indeed show that the magnitude of syntactic alignment increases when speakers are interacting with an interlocutor as opposed to doing the experiment alone. The structural persistence effect for passive sentences is stronger in the presence of an interlocutor than when no interlocutor is present (i.e., when the participant is primed by a recording). We did not find evidence, however, that a speaker’s syntactic priming magnitude is influenced by the degree of their conversation partner’s priming magnitude. Together, these results support a mediated account of syntactic priming, in which syntactic choices are not only affected by preceding linguistic input, but also by top-down influences, such as the speakers’ communicative intent.
  • Schubotz, L., Ozyurek, A., & Holler, J. (2019). Age-related differences in multimodal recipient design: Younger, but not older adults, adapt speech and co-speech gestures to common ground. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(2), 254-271. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1527377.

    Abstract

    Speakers can adapt their speech and co-speech gestures based on knowledge shared with an addressee (common ground-based recipient design). Here, we investigate whether these adaptations are modulated by the speaker’s age and cognitive abilities. Younger and older participants narrated six short comic stories to a same-aged addressee. Half of each story was known to both participants, the other half only to the speaker. The two age groups did not differ in terms of the number of words and narrative events mentioned per narration, or in terms of gesture frequency, gesture rate, or percentage of events expressed multimodally. However, only the younger participants reduced the amount of verbal and gestural information when narrating mutually known as opposed to novel story content. Age-related differences in cognitive abilities did not predict these differences in common ground-based recipient design. The older participants’ communicative behaviour may therefore also reflect differences in social or pragmatic goals.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1527377_sm4510.pdf
  • Sjerps, M. J., Fox, N. P., Johnson, K., & Chang, E. F. (2019). Speaker-normalized sound representations in the human auditory cortex. Nature Communications, 10: 2465. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10365-z.

    Abstract

    The acoustic dimensions that distinguish speech sounds (like the vowel differences in “boot” and “boat”) also differentiate speakers’ voices. Therefore, listeners must normalize across speakers without losing linguistic information. Past behavioral work suggests an important role for auditory contrast enhancement in normalization: preceding context affects listeners’ perception of subsequent speech sounds. Here, using intracranial electrocorticography in humans, we investigate whether and how such context effects arise in auditory cortex. Participants identified speech sounds that were preceded by phrases from two different speakers whose voices differed along the same acoustic dimension as target words (the lowest resonance of the vocal tract). In every participant, target vowels evoke a speaker-dependent neural response that is consistent with the listener’s perception, and which follows from a contrast enhancement model. Auditory cortex processing thus displays a critical feature of normalization, allowing listeners to extract meaningful content from the voices of diverse speakers.

    Supplementary material

    41467_2019_10365_MOESM1_ESM.pdf
  • Takashima, A., & Verhoeven, L. (2019). Radical repetition effects in beginning learners of Chinese as a foreign language reading. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 50, 71-81. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2018.03.001.

    Abstract

    The aim of the present study was to examine whether repetition of radicals during training of Chinese characters leads to better word acquisition performance in beginning learners of Chinese as a foreign language. Thirty Dutch university students were trained on 36 Chinese one-character words for their pronunciations and meanings. They were also exposed to the specifics of the radicals, that is, for phonetic radicals, the associated pronunciation was explained, and for semantic radicals the associated categorical meanings were explained. Results showed that repeated exposure to phonetic and semantic radicals through character pronunciation and meaning trainings indeed induced better understanding of those radicals that were shared among different characters. Furthermore, characters in the training set that shared phonetic radicals were pronounced better than those that did not. Repetition of semantic radicals across different characters, however, hindered the learning of exact meanings. Students generally confused the meanings of other characters that shared the semantic radical. The study shows that in the initial stage of learning, overlapping information of the shared radicals are effectively learned. Acquisition of the specifics of individual characters, however, requires more training.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • Takashima, A., Bakker-Marshall, I., Van Hell, J. G., McQueen, J. M., & Janzen, G. (2019). Neural correlates of word learning in children. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 37: 100647. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2019.100649.

    Abstract

    Memory representations of words are thought to undergo changes with consolidation: Episodic memories of novel words are transformed into lexical representations that interact with other words in the mental dictionary. Behavioral studies have shown that this lexical integration process is enhanced when there is more time for consolidation. Neuroimaging studies have further revealed that novel word representations are initially represented in a hippocampally-centered system, whereas left posterior middle temporal cortex activation increases with lexicalization. In this study, we measured behavioral and brain responses to newly-learned words in children. Two groups of Dutch children, aged between 8-10 and 14-16 years, were trained on 30 novel Japanese words depicting novel concepts. Children were tested on word-forms, word-meanings, and the novel words’ influence on existing word processing immediately after training, and again after a week. In line with the adult findings, hippocampal involvement decreased with time. Lexical integration, however, was not observed immediately or after a week, neither behaviorally nor neurally. It appears that time alone is not always sufficient for lexical integration to occur. We suggest that other factors (e.g., the novelty of the concepts and familiarity with the language the words are derived from) might also influence the integration process.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary data
  • Trujillo, J. P., Vaitonyte, J., Simanova, I., & Ozyurek, A. (2019). Toward the markerless and automatic analysis of kinematic features: A toolkit for gesture and movement research. Behavior Research Methods, 51(2), 769-777. doi:10.3758/s13428-018-1086-8.

    Abstract

    Action, gesture, and sign represent unique aspects of human communication that use form and movement to convey meaning. Researchers typically use manual coding of video data to characterize naturalistic, meaningful movements at various levels of description, but the availability of markerless motion-tracking technology allows for quantification of the kinematic features of gestures or any meaningful human movement. We present a novel protocol for extracting a set of kinematic features from movements recorded with Microsoft Kinect. Our protocol captures spatial and temporal features, such as height, velocity, submovements/strokes, and holds. This approach is based on studies of communicative actions and gestures and attempts to capture features that are consistently implicated as important kinematic aspects of communication. We provide open-source code for the protocol, a description of how the features are calculated, a validation of these features as quantified by our protocol versus manual coders, and a discussion of how the protocol can be applied. The protocol effectively quantifies kinematic features that are important in the production (e.g., characterizing different contexts) as well as the comprehension (e.g., used by addressees to understand intent and semantics) of manual acts. The protocol can also be integrated with qualitative analysis, allowing fast and objective demarcation of movement units, providing accurate coding even of complex movements. This can be useful to clinicians, as well as to researchers studying multimodal communication or human–robot interactions. By making this protocol available, we hope to provide a tool that can be applied to understanding meaningful movement characteristics in human communication.
  • Udden, J., & Männel, C. (2019). Artificial grammar learning and its neurobiology in relation to language processing and development. In S.-A. Rueschemeyer, & M. G. Gaskell (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics (2nd ed., pp. 755-783). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Abstract

    The artificial grammar learning (AGL) paradigm enables systematic investigation of the acquisition of linguistically relevant structures. It is a paradigm of interest for language processing research, interfacing with theoretical linguistics, and for comparative research on language acquisition and evolution. This chapter presents a key for understanding major variants of the paradigm. An unbiased summary of neuroimaging findings of AGL is presented, using meta-analytic methods, pointing to the crucial involvement of the bilateral frontal operculum and regions in the right lateral hemisphere. Against a background of robust posterior temporal cortex involvement in processing complex syntax, the evidence for involvement of the posterior temporal cortex in AGL is reviewed. Infant AGL studies testing for neural substrates are reviewed, covering the acquisition of adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies as well as algebraic rules. The language acquisition data suggest that comparisons of learnability of complex grammars performed with adults may now also be possible with children.
  • Van Bergen, G., Flecken, M., & Wu, R. (2019). Rapid target selection of object categories based on verbs: Implications for language-categorization interactions. Psychophysiology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/psyp.13395.

    Abstract

    Although much is known about how nouns facilitate object categorization, very little is known about how verbs (e.g., posture verbs such as stand or lie) facilitate object categorization. Native Dutch speakers are a unique population to investigate this issue with because the configurational categories distinguished by staan (to stand) and liggen (to lie) are inherent in everyday Dutch language. Using an ERP component (N2pc), four experiments demonstrate that selection of posture verb categories is rapid (between 220–320 ms). The effect was attenuated, though present, when removing the perceptual distinction between categories. A similar attenuated effect was obtained in native English speakers, where the category distinction is less familiar, and when category labels were implicit for native Dutch speakers. Our results are among the first to demonstrate that category search based on verbs can be rapid, although extensive linguistic experience and explicit labels may not be necessary to facilitate categorization in this case.

    Supplementary material

    psyp13395-sup-0001-appendixs1.pdf
  • Varma, S., Takashima, A., Fu, L., & Kessels, R. P. C. (2019). Mindwandering propensity modulates episodic memory consolidation. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s40520-019-01251-1.

    Abstract

    Research into strategies that can combat episodic memory decline in healthy older adults has gained widespread attention over the years. Evidence suggests that a short period of rest immediately after learning can enhance memory consolidation, as compared to engaging in cognitive tasks. However, a recent study in younger adults has shown that post-encoding engagement in a working memory task leads to the same degree of memory consolidation as from post-encoding rest. Here, we tested whether this finding can be extended to older adults. Using a delayed recognition test, we compared the memory consolidation of word–picture pairs learned prior to 9 min of rest or a 2-Back working memory task, and examined its relationship with executive functioning and mindwandering propensity. Our results show that (1) similar to younger adults, memory for the word–picture associations did not differ when encoding was followed by post-encoding rest or 2-Back task and (2) older adults with higher mindwandering propensity retained more word–picture associations encoded prior to rest relative to those encoded prior to the 2-Back task, whereas participants with lower mindwandering propensity had better memory performance for the pairs encoded prior to the 2-Back task. Overall, our results indicate that the degree of episodic memory consolidation during both active and passive post-encoding periods depends on individual mindwandering tendency.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Warren, C. M., Tona, K. D., Ouwekerk, L., Van Paridon, J., Poletiek, F. H., Bosch, J. A., & Nieuwenhuis, S. (2019). The neuromodulatory and hormonal effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation as evidenced by salivary alpha amylase, salivary cortisol, pupil diameter, and the P3 event-related potential. Brain Stimulation, 12(3), 635-642. doi:10.1016/j.brs.2018.12.224.

    Abstract

    Background Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a new, non-invasive technique being investigated as an intervention for a variety of clinical disorders, including epilepsy and depression. It is thought to exert its therapeutic effect by increasing central norepinephrine (NE) activity, but the evidence supporting this notion is limited. Objective In order to test for an impact of tVNS on psychophysiological and hormonal indices of noradrenergic function, we applied tVNS in concert with assessment of salivary alpha amylase (SAA) and cortisol, pupil size, and electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings. Methods Across three experiments, we applied real and sham tVNS to 61 healthy participants while they performed a set of simple stimulus-discrimination tasks. Before and after the task, as well as during one break, participants provided saliva samples and had their pupil size recorded. EEG was recorded throughout the task. The target for tVNS was the cymba conchae, which is heavily innervated by the auricular branch of the vagus nerve. Sham stimulation was applied to the ear lobe. Results P3 amplitude was not affected by tVNS (Experiment 1A: N=24; Experiment 1B: N=20; Bayes factor supporting null model=4.53), nor was pupil size (Experiment 2: N=16; interaction of treatment and time: p=0.79). However, tVNS increased SAA (Experiments 1A and 2: N=25) and attenuated the decline of salivary cortisol compared to sham (Experiment 2: N=17), as indicated by significant interactions involving treatment and time (p=.023 and p=.040, respectively). Conclusion These findings suggest that tVNS modulates hormonal indices but not psychophysiological indices of noradrenergic function.
  • Weber, K., Christiansen, M., Indefrey, P., & Hagoort, P. (2019). Primed from the start: Syntactic priming during the first days of language learning. Language Learning, 69(1), 198-221. doi:10.1111/lang.12327.

    Abstract

    New linguistic information must be integrated into our existing language system. Using a novel experimental task that incorporates a syntactic priming paradigm into artificial language learning, we investigated how new grammatical regularities and words are learned. This innovation allowed us to control the language input the learner received, while the syntactic priming paradigm provided insight into the nature of the underlying syntactic processing machinery. The results of the present study pointed to facilitatory syntactic processing effects within the first days of learning: Syntactic and lexical priming effects revealed participants’ sensitivity to both novel words and word orders. This suggested that novel syntactic structures and their meaning (form–function mapping) can be acquired rapidly through incidental learning. More generally, our study indicated similar mechanisms for learning and processing in both artificial and natural languages, with implications for the relationship between first and second language learning.

  • Weber, K., Micheli, C., Ruigendijk, E., & Rieger, J. (2019). Sentence processing is modulated by the current linguistic environment and a priori information: An fMRI study. Brain and Behavior. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/brb3.1308.

    Abstract

    Introduction Words are not processed in isolation but in rich contexts that are used to modulate and facilitate language comprehension. Here, we investigate distinct neural networks underlying two types of contexts, the current linguistic environment and verb‐based syntactic preferences. Methods We had two main manipulations. The first was the current linguistic environment, where the relative frequencies of two syntactic structures (prepositional object [PO] and double‐object [DO]) would either follow everyday linguistic experience or not. The second concerned the preference toward one or the other structure depending on the verb; learned in everyday language use and stored in memory. German participants were reading PO and DO sentences in German while brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results First, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) showed a pattern of activation that integrated the current linguistic environment with everyday linguistic experience. When the input did not match everyday experience, the unexpected frequent structure showed higher activation in the ACC than the other conditions and more connectivity from the ACC to posterior parts of the language network. Second, verb‐based surprisal of seeing a structure given a verb (PO verb preference but DO structure presentation) resulted, within the language network (left inferior frontal and left middle/superior temporal gyrus) and the precuneus, in increased activation compared to a predictable verb‐structure pairing. Conclusion In conclusion, (1) beyond the canonical language network, brain areas engaged in prediction and error signaling, such as the ACC, might use the statistics of syntactic structures to modulate language processing, (2) the language network is directly engaged in processing verb preferences. These two networks show distinct influences on sentence processing.

    Supplementary material

    Supporting information
  • Zhu, Z., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Hakun, J. G., Petersson, K. M., Wang, S., & Hagoort, P. (2019). Semantic unification modulates N400 and BOLD signal change in the brain: A simultaneous EEG-fMRI study. Journal of Neurolinguistics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2019.100855.

    Abstract

    Semantic unification during sentence comprehension has been associated with amplitude change of the N400 in event-related potential (ERP) studies, and activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. However, the specificity of this activation to semantic unification remains unknown. To more closely examine the brain processes involved in semantic unification, we employed simultaneous EEG-fMRI to time-lock the semantic unification related N400 change, and integrated trial-by-trial variation in both N400 and BOLD change beyond the condition-level BOLD change difference measured in traditional fMRI analyses. Participants read sentences in which semantic unification load was parametrically manipulated by varying cloze probability. Separately, ERP and fMRI results replicated previous findings, in that semantic unification load parametrically modulated the amplitude of N400 and cortical activation. Integrated EEG-fMRI analyses revealed a different pattern in which functional activity in the left IFG and bilateral supramarginal gyrus (SMG) was associated with N400 amplitude, with the left IFG activation and bilateral SMG activation being selective to the condition-level and trial-level of semantic unification load, respectively. By employing the EEG-fMRI integrated analyses, this study among the first sheds light on how to integrate trial-level variation in language comprehension.
  • Bakker-Marshall, I., Takashima, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. (2018). Theta-band Oscillations in the Middle Temporal Gyrus Reflect Novel Word Consolidation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(5), 621-633. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01240.

    Abstract

    Like many other types of memory formation, novel word learning benefits from an offline consolidation period after the initial encoding phase. A previous EEG study has shown that retrieval of novel words elicited more word-like-induced electrophysiological brain activity in the theta band after consolidation [Bakker, I., Takashima, A., van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. Changes in theta and beta oscillations as signatures of novel word consolidation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27, 1286–1297, 2015]. This suggests that theta-band oscillations play a role in lexicalization, but it has not been demonstrated that this effect is directly caused by the formation of lexical representations. This study used magnetoencephalography to localize the theta consolidation effect to the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG), a region known to be involved in lexical storage. Both untrained novel words and words learned immediately before test elicited lower theta power during retrieval than existing words in this region. After a 24-hr consolidation period, the difference between novel and existing words decreased significantly, most strongly in the left pMTG. The magnitude of the decrease after consolidation correlated with an increase in behavioral competition effects between novel words and existing words with similar spelling, reflecting functional integration into the mental lexicon. These results thus provide new evidence that consolidation aids the development of lexical representations mediated by the left pMTG. Theta synchronization may enable lexical access by facilitating the simultaneous activation of distributed semantic, phonological, and orthographic representations that are bound together in the pMTG.
  • Berkers, R. M. W. J., Ekman, M., van Dongen, E. V., Takashima, A., Barth, M., Paller, K. A., & Fernández, G. (2018). Cued reactivation during slow-wave sleep induces brain connectivity changes related to memory stabilization. Scientific Reports, 8: 16958. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35287-6.

    Abstract

    Memory reprocessing following acquisition enhances memory consolidation. Specifically, neural activity during encoding is thought to be ‘replayed’ during subsequent slow-wave sleep. Such memory replay is thought to contribute to the functional reorganization of neural memory traces. In particular, memory replay may facilitate the exchange of information across brain regions by inducing a reconfiguration of connectivity across the brain. Memory reactivation can be induced by external cues through a procedure known as “targeted memory reactivation”. Here, we analysed data from a published study with auditory cues used to reactivate visual object-location memories during slow-wave sleep. We characterized effects of memory reactivation on brain network connectivity using graph-theory. We found that cue presentation during slow-wave sleep increased global network integration of occipital cortex, a visual region that was also active during retrieval of object locations. Although cueing did not have an overall beneficial effect on the retention of cued versus uncued associations, individual differences in overnight memory stabilization were related to enhanced network integration of occipital cortex. Furthermore, occipital cortex displayed enhanced connectivity with mnemonic regions, namely the hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, thalamus and medial prefrontal cortex during cue sound presentation. Together, these results suggest a neural mechanism where cue-induced replay during sleep increases integration of task-relevant perceptual regions with mnemonic regions. This cross-regional integration may be instrumental for the consolidation and long-term storage of enduring memories.

    Supplementary material

    41598_2018_35287_MOESM1_ESM.doc
  • Dai, B., Chen, C., Long, Y., Zheng, L., Zhao, H., Bai, X., Liu, W., Zhang, Y., Liu, L., Guo, T., Ding, G., & Lu, C. (2018). Neural mechanisms for selectively tuning into the target speaker in a naturalistic noisy situation. Nature Communications, 9: 2405. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-04819-z.

    Abstract

    The neural mechanism for selectively tuning in to a target speaker while tuning out the others in a multi-speaker situation (i.e., the cocktail-party effect) remains elusive. Here we addressed this issue by measuring brain activity simultaneously from a listener and from multiple speakers while they were involved in naturalistic conversations. Results consistently show selectively enhanced interpersonal neural synchronization (INS) between the listener and the attended speaker at left temporal–parietal junction, compared with that between the listener and the unattended speaker across different multi-speaker situations. Moreover, INS increases significantly prior to the occurrence of verbal responses, and even when the listener’s brain activity precedes that of the speaker. The INS increase is independent of brain-to-speech synchronization in both the anatomical location and frequency range. These findings suggest that INS underlies the selective process in a multi-speaker situation through neural predictions at the content level but not the sensory level of speech.

    Supplementary material

    Dai_etal_2018_sup.pdf
  • Degand, L., & Van Bergen, G. (2018). Discourse markers as turn-transition devices: Evidence from speech and instant messaging. Discourse Processes, 55, 47-71. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2016.1198136.

    Abstract

    In this article we investigate the relation between discourse markers and turn-transition strategies in face-to-face conversations and Instant Messaging (IM), that is, unplanned, real-time, text-based, computer-mediated communication. By means of a quantitative corpus study of utterances containing a discourse marker, we show that utterance-final discourse markers are used more often in IM than in face-to-face conversations. Moreover, utterance-final discourse markers are shown to occur more often at points of turn-transition compared with points of turn-maintenance in both types of conversation. From our results we conclude that the discourse markers in utterance-final position can function as a turn-transition mechanism, signaling that the turn is over and the floor is open to the hearer. We argue that this linguistic turn-taking strategy is essentially similar in face-to-face and IM communication. Our results add to the evidence that communication in IM is more like speech than like writing.
  • Duarte, R., Uhlmann, M., Van den Broek, D., Fitz, H., Petersson, K. M., & Morrison, A. (2018). Encoding symbolic sequences with spiking neural reservoirs. In Proceedings of the 2018 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN). doi:10.1109/IJCNN.2018.8489114.

    Abstract

    Biologically inspired spiking networks are an important tool to study the nature of computation and cognition in neural systems. In this work, we investigate the representational capacity of spiking networks engaged in an identity mapping task. We compare two schemes for encoding symbolic input, one in which input is injected as a direct current and one where input is delivered as a spatio-temporal spike pattern. We test the ability of networks to discriminate their input as a function of the number of distinct input symbols. We also compare performance using either membrane potentials or filtered spike trains as state variable. Furthermore, we investigate how the circuit behavior depends on the balance between excitation and inhibition, and the degree of synchrony and regularity in its internal dynamics. Finally, we compare different linear methods of decoding population activity onto desired target labels. Overall, our results suggest that even this simple mapping task is strongly influenced by design choices on input encoding, state-variables, circuit characteristics and decoding methods, and these factors can interact in complex ways. This work highlights the importance of constraining computational network models of behavior by available neurobiological evidence.
  • Eekhof, L. S., Eerland, A., & Willems, R. M. (2018). Readers’ insensitivity to tense revealed: No differences in mental simulation during reading of present and past tense stories. Collabra: Psychology, 4(1): 16. doi:10.1525/collabra.121.

    Abstract

    While the importance of mental simulation during literary reading has long been recognized, we know little about the factors that determine when, what, and how much readers mentally simulate. Here we investigate the influence of a specific text characteristic, namely verb tense (present vs. past), on mental simulation during literary reading. Verbs usually denote the actions and events that take place in narratives and hence it is hypothesized that verb tense will influence the amount of mental simulation elicited in readers. Although the present tense is traditionally considered to be more “vivid”, this study is one of the first to experimentally assess this claim. We recorded eye-movements while subjects read stories in the past or present tense and collected data regarding self-reported levels of mental simulation, transportation and appreciation. We found no influence of tense on any of the offline measures. The eye-tracking data showed a slightly more complex pattern. Although we did not find a main effect of sensorimotor simulation content on reading times, we were able to link the degree to which subjects slowed down when reading simulation eliciting content to offline measures of attention and transportation, but this effect did not interact with the tense of the story. Unexpectedly, we found a main effect of tense on reading times per word, with past tense stories eliciting longer first fixation durations and gaze durations. However, we were unable to link this effect to any of the offline measures. In sum, this study suggests that tense does not play a substantial role in the process of mental simulation elicited by literary stories.

    Supplementary material

    Data Accessibility
  • Eichert, N., Peeters, D., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Language-driven anticipatory eye movements in virtual reality. Behavior Research Methods, 50(3), 1102-1115. doi:10.3758/s13428-017-0929-z.

    Abstract

    Predictive language processing is often studied by measuring eye movements as participants look at objects on a computer screen while they listen to spoken sentences. The use of this variant of the visual world paradigm has shown that information encountered by a listener at a spoken verb can give rise to anticipatory eye movements to a target object, which is taken to indicate that people predict upcoming words. The ecological validity of such findings remains questionable, however, because these computer experiments used two-dimensional (2D) stimuli that are mere abstractions of real world objects. Here we present a visual world paradigm study in a three-dimensional (3D) immersive virtual reality environment. Despite significant changes in the stimulus material and the different mode of stimulus presentation, language-mediated anticipatory eye movements were observed. These findings thus indicate prediction of upcoming words in language comprehension in a more naturalistic setting where natural depth cues are preserved. Moreover, the results confirm the feasibility of using eye-tracking in rich and multimodal 3D virtual environments.

    Supplementary material

    13428_2017_929_MOESM1_ESM.docx
  • Ergin, R., Senghas, A., Jackendoff, R., & Gleitman, L. (2018). Structural cues for symmetry, asymmetry, and non-symmetry in Central Taurus Sign Language. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference (EVOLANGXII) (pp. 104-106). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.025.
  • Flecken, M., & Von Stutterheim, C. (2018). Sprache und Kognition: Sprachvergleichende und lernersprachliche Untersuchungen zur Ereigniskonzeptualisierung. In S. Schimke, & H. Hopp (Eds.), Sprachverarbeitung im Zweitspracherwerb (pp. 325-356). Berlin: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110456356-014.
  • Francisco, A. A., Takashima, A., McQueen, J. M., Van den Bunt, M., Jesse, A., & Groen, M. A. (2018). Adult dyslexic readers benefit less from visual input during audiovisual speech processing: fMRI evidence. Neuropsychologia, 117, 454-471. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.009.

    Abstract

    The aim of the present fMRI study was to investigate whether typical and dyslexic adult readers differed in the neural correlates of audiovisual speech processing. We tested for Blood Oxygen-Level Dependent (BOLD) activity differences between these two groups in a 1-back task, as they processed written (word, illegal consonant strings) and spoken (auditory, visual and audiovisual) stimuli. When processing written stimuli, dyslexic readers showed reduced activity in the supramarginal gyrus, a region suggested to play an important role in phonological processing, but only when they processed strings of consonants, not when they read words. During the speech perception tasks, dyslexic readers were only slower than typical readers in their behavioral responses in the visual speech condition. Additionally, dyslexic readers presented reduced neural activation in the auditory, the visual, and the audiovisual speech conditions. The groups also differed in terms of superadditivity, with dyslexic readers showing decreased neural activation in the regions of interest. An additional analysis focusing on vision-related processing during the audiovisual condition showed diminished activation for the dyslexic readers in a fusiform gyrus cluster. Our results thus suggest that there are differences in audiovisual speech processing between dyslexic and normal readers. These differences might be explained by difficulties in processing the unisensory components of audiovisual speech, more specifically, dyslexic readers may benefit less from visual information during audiovisual speech processing than typical readers. Given that visual speech processing supports the development of phonological skills fundamental in reading, differences in processing of visual speech could contribute to differences in reading ability between typical and dyslexic readers.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Eisner, F. (2018). Opposing and following responses in sensorimotor speech control: Why responses go both ways. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(4), 1458-1467. doi:10.3758/s13423-018-1494-x.

    Abstract

    When talking, speakers continuously monitor and use the auditory feedback of their own voice to control and inform speech production processes. When speakers are provided with auditory feedback that is perturbed in real time, most of them compensate for this by opposing the feedback perturbation. But some speakers follow the perturbation. In the current study, we investigated whether the state of the speech production system at perturbation onset may determine what type of response (opposing or following) is given. The results suggest that whether a perturbation-related response is opposing or following depends on ongoing fluctuations of the production system: It initially responds by doing the opposite of what it was doing. This effect and the non-trivial proportion of following responses suggest that current production models are inadequate: They need to account for why responses to unexpected sensory feedback depend on the production-system’s state at the time of perturbation.
  • Franken, M. K., Eisner, F., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). Self-monitoring in the cerebral cortex: Neural responses to pitch-perturbed auditory feedback during speech production. NeuroImage, 179, 326-336. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.06.061.

    Abstract

    Speaking is a complex motor skill which requires near instantaneous integration of sensory and motor-related information. Current theory hypothesizes a complex interplay between motor and auditory processes during speech production, involving the online comparison of the speech output with an internally generated forward model. To examine the neural correlates of this intricate interplay between sensory and motor processes, the current study uses altered auditory feedback (AAF) in combination with magnetoencephalography (MEG). Participants vocalized the vowel/e/and heard auditory feedback that was temporarily pitch-shifted by only 25 cents, while neural activity was recorded with MEG. As a control condition, participants also heard the recordings of the same auditory feedback that they heard in the first half of the experiment, now without vocalizing. The participants were not aware of any perturbation of the auditory feedback. We found auditory cortical areas responded more strongly to the pitch shifts during vocalization. In addition, auditory feedback perturbation resulted in spectral power increases in the θ and lower β bands, predominantly in sensorimotor areas. These results are in line with current models of speech production, suggesting auditory cortical areas are involved in an active comparison between a forward model's prediction and the actual sensory input. Subsequently, these areas interact with motor areas to generate a motor response. Furthermore, the results suggest that θ and β power increases support auditory-motor interaction, motor error detection and/or sensory prediction processing.
  • Franken, M. K. (2018). Listening for speaking: Investigations of the relationship between speech perception and production. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Speaking and listening are complex tasks that we perform on a daily basis, almost without conscious effort. Interestingly, speaking almost never occurs without listening: whenever we speak, we at least hear our own speech. The research in this thesis is concerned with how the perception of our own speech influences our speaking behavior. We show that unconsciously, we actively monitor this auditory feedback of our own speech. This way, we can efficiently take action and adapt articulation when an error occurs and auditory feedback does not correspond to our expectation. Processing the auditory feedback of our speech does not, however, automatically affect speech production. It is subject to a number of constraints. For example, we do not just track auditory feedback, but also its consistency. If auditory feedback is more consistent over time, it has a stronger influence on speech production. In addition, we investigated how auditory feedback during speech is processed in the brain, using magnetoencephalography (MEG). The results suggest the involvement of a broad cortical network including both auditory and motor-related regions. This is consistent with the view that the auditory center of the brain is involved in comparing auditory feedback to our expectation of auditory feedback. If this comparison yields a mismatch, motor-related regions of the brain can be recruited to alter the ongoing articulations.
  • De Groot, A. M. B., & Hagoort, P. (Eds.). (2018). Research methods in psycholinguistics and the neurobiology of language: A practical guide. Oxford: Wiley.
  • Hagoort, P. (2018). Prerequisites for an evolutionary stance on the neurobiology of language. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 21, 191-194. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.05.012.
  • Hahn, L., Benders, T., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2018). Infants' sensitivity to rhyme in songs. Infant Behavior and Development, 52, 130-139. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2018.07.002.

    Abstract

    Children’s songs often contain rhyming words at phrase endings. In this study, we investigated whether infants can already recognize this phonological pattern in songs. Earlier studies using lists of spoken words were equivocal on infants’ spontaneous processing of rhymes (Hayes, Slater, & Brown, 2000; Jusczyk, Goodman, & Baumann, 1999). Songs, however, constitute an ecologically valid rhyming stimulus, which could allow for spontaneous processing of this phonological pattern in infants. Novel children’s songs with rhyming and non-rhyming lyrics using pseudo-words were presented to 35 9-month-old Dutch infants using the Headturn Preference Procedure. Infants on average listened longer to the non-rhyming songs, with around half of the infants however exhibiting a preference for the rhyming songs. These results highlight that infants have the processing abilities to benefit from their natural rhyming input for the development of their phonological abilities.
  • Hasson, U., Egidi, G., Marelli, M., & Willems, R. M. (2018). Grounding the neurobiology of language in first principles: The necessity of non-language-centric explanations for language comprehension. Cognition, 180(1), 135-157. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.06.018.

    Abstract

    Recent decades have ushered in tremendous progress in understanding the neural basis of language. Most of our current knowledge on language and the brain, however, is derived from lab-based experiments that are far removed from everyday language use, and that are inspired by questions originating in linguistic and psycholinguistic contexts. In this paper we argue that in order to make progress, the field needs to shift its focus to understanding the neurobiology of naturalistic language comprehension. We present here a new conceptual framework for understanding the neurobiological organization of language comprehension. This framework is non-language-centered in the computational/neurobiological constructs it identifies, and focuses strongly on context. Our core arguments address three general issues: (i) the difficulty in extending language-centric explanations to discourse; (ii) the necessity of taking context as a serious topic of study, modeling it formally and acknowledging the limitations on external validity when studying language comprehension outside context; and (iii) the tenuous status of the language network as an explanatory construct. We argue that adopting this framework means that neurobiological studies of language will be less focused on identifying correlations between brain activity patterns and mechanisms postulated by psycholinguistic theories. Instead, they will be less self-referential and increasingly more inclined towards integration of language with other cognitive systems, ultimately doing more justice to the neurobiological organization of language and how it supports language as it is used in everyday life.
  • Hervais-Adelman, A., Moser-Mercer, B., & Golestani, N. (2018). Commentary: Broca pars triangularis constitutes a “hub” of the language-control network during simultaneous language translation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12: 22. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00022.

    Abstract

    A commentary on Broca Pars Triangularis Constitutes a “Hub” of the Language-Control Network during Simultaneous Language Translation by Elmer, S. (2016). Front. Hum. Neurosci. 10:491. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00491 Elmer (2016) conducted an fMRI investigation of “simultaneous language translation” in five participants. The article presents group and individual analyses of German-to-Italian and Italian-to-German translation, confined to a small set of anatomical regions previously reported to be involved in multilingual control. Here we take the opportunity to discuss concerns regarding certain aspects of the study.
  • Hervais-Adelman, A., Egorova, N., & Golestani, N. (2018). Beyond bilingualism: Multilingual experience correlates with caudate volume. Brain Structure and Function, 223(7), 3495-3502. doi:10.1007/s00429-018-1695-0.

    Abstract

    The multilingual brain implements mechanisms that serve to select the appropriate language as a function of the communicative environment. Engaging these mechanisms on a regular basis appears to have consequences for brain structure and function. Studies have implicated the caudate nuclei as important nodes in polyglot language control processes, and have also shown structural differences in the caudate nuclei in bilingual compared to monolingual populations. However, the majority of published work has focused on the categorical differences between monolingual and bilingual individuals, and little is known about whether these findings extend to multilingual individuals, who have even greater language control demands. In the present paper, we present an analysis of the volume and morphology of the caudate nuclei, putamen, pallidum and thalami in 75 multilingual individuals who speak three or more languages. Volumetric analyses revealed a significant relationship between multilingual experience and right caudate volume, as well as a marginally significant relationship with left caudate volume. Vertex-wise analyses revealed a significant enlargement of dorsal and anterior portions of the left caudate nucleus, known to have connectivity with executive brain regions, as a function of multilingual expertise. These results suggest that multilingual expertise might exercise a continuous impact on brain structure, and that as additional languages beyond a second are acquired, the additional demands for linguistic and cognitive control result in modifications to brain structures associated with language management processes.
  • Heyselaar, E., Mazaheri, A., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2018). Changes in alpha activity reveal that social opinion modulates attention allocation during face processing. NeuroImage, 174, 432-440. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.03.034.

    Abstract

    Participants’ performance differs when conducting a task in the presence of a secondary individual, moreover the opinion the participant has of this individual also plays a role. Using EEG, we investigated how previous interactions with, and evaluations of, an avatar in virtual reality subsequently influenced attentional allocation to the face of that avatar. We focused on changes in the alpha activity as an index of attentional allocation. We found that the onset of an avatar’s face whom the participant had developed a rapport with induced greater alpha suppression. This suggests greater attentional resources are allocated to the interacted-with avatars. The evaluative ratings of the avatar induced a U-shaped change in alpha suppression, such that participants paid most attention when the avatar was rated as average. These results suggest that attentional allocation is an important element of how behaviour is altered in the presence of a secondary individual and is modulated by our opinion of that individual.

    Supplementary material

    mmc1.docx
  • Huettig, F., Lachmann, T., Reis, A., & Petersson, K. M. (2018). Distinguishing cause from effect - Many deficits associated with developmental dyslexia may be a consequence of reduced and suboptimal reading experience. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(3), 333-350. doi:10.1080/23273798.2017.1348528.

    Abstract

    The cause of developmental dyslexia is still unknown despite decades of intense research. Many causal explanations have been proposed, based on the range of impairments displayed by affected individuals. Here we draw attention to the fact that many of these impairments are also shown by illiterate individuals who have not received any or very little reading instruction. We suggest that this fact may not be coincidental and that the performance differences of both illiterates and individuals with dyslexia compared to literate controls are, to a substantial extent, secondary consequences of either reduced or suboptimal reading experience or a combination of both. The search for the primary causes of reading impairments will make progress if the consequences of quantitative and qualitative differences in reading experience are better taken into account and not mistaken for the causes of reading disorders. We close by providing four recommendations for future research.
  • Inacio, F., Faisca, L., Forkstam, C., Araujo, S., Bramao, I., Reis, A., & Petersson, K. M. (2018). Implicit sequence learning is preserved in dyslexic children. Annals of Dyslexia, 68(1), 1-14. doi:10.1007/s11881-018-0158-x.

    Abstract

    This study investigates the implicit sequence learning abilities of dyslexic children using an artificial grammar learning task with an extended exposure period. Twenty children with developmental dyslexia participated in the study and were matched with two control groups—one matched for age and other for reading skills. During 3 days, all participants performed an acquisition task, where they were exposed to colored geometrical forms sequences with an underlying grammatical structure. On the last day, after the acquisition task, participants were tested in a grammaticality classification task. Implicit sequence learning was present in dyslexic children, as well as in both control groups, and no differences between groups were observed. These results suggest that implicit learning deficits per se cannot explain the characteristic reading difficulties of the dyslexics.
  • Jacobs, A. M., & Willems, R. M. (2018). The fictive brain: Neurocognitive correlates of engagement in literature. Review of General Psychology, 22(2), 147-160. doi:10.1037/gpr0000106.

    Abstract

    Fiction is vital to our being. Many people enjoy engaging with fiction every day. Here we focus on literary reading as 1 instance of fiction consumption from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. The brain processes which play a role in the mental construction of fiction worlds and the related engagement with fictional characters, remain largely unknown. The authors discuss the neurocognitive poetics model (Jacobs, 2015a) of literary reading specifying the likely neuronal correlates of several key processes in literary reading, namely inference and situation model building, immersion, mental simulation and imagery, figurative language and style, and the issue of distinguishing fact from fiction. An overview of recent work on these key processes is followed by a discussion of methodological challenges in studying the brain bases of fiction processing
  • Kösem, A., Bosker, H. R., Takashima, A., Meyer, A. S., Jensen, O., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Neural entrainment determines the words we hear. Current Biology, 28, 2867-2875. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.023.

    Abstract

    Low-frequency neural entrainment to rhythmic input has been hypothesized as a canonical mechanism that shapes sensory perception in time. Neural entrainment is deemed particularly relevant for speech analysis, as it would contribute to the extraction of discrete linguistic elements from continuous acoustic signals. However, its causal influence in speech perception has been difficult to establish. Here, we provide evidence that oscillations build temporal predictions about the duration of speech tokens that affect perception. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), we studied neural dynamics during listening to sentences that changed in speech rate. Weobserved neural entrainment to preceding speech rhythms persisting for several cycles after the change in rate. The sustained entrainment was associated with changes in the perceived duration of the last word’s vowel, resulting in the perception of words with different meanings. These findings support oscillatory models of speech processing, suggesting that neural oscillations actively shape speech perception.
  • Lam, N. H. L., Hulten, A., Hagoort, P., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). Robust neuronal oscillatory entrainment to speech displays individual variation in lateralisation. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(8), 943-954. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1437456.

    Abstract

    Neural oscillations may be instrumental for the tracking and segmentation of continuous speech. Earlier work has suggested that delta, theta and gamma oscillations entrain to the speech rhythm. We used magnetoencephalography and a large sample of 102 participants to investigate oscillatory entrainment to speech, and observed robust entrainment of delta and theta activity, and weak group-level gamma entrainment. We show that the peak frequency and the hemispheric lateralisation of the entrainment are subject to considerable individual variability. The first finding may support the involvement of intrinsic oscillations in entrainment, and the second finding suggests that there is no systematic default right-hemispheric bias for processing acoustic signals on a slow time scale. Although low frequency entrainment to speech is a robust phenomenon, the characteristics of entrainment vary across individuals, and this variation is important for understanding the underlying neural mechanisms of entrainment, as well as its functional significance.
  • Lewis, A. G., Schriefers, H., Bastiaansen, M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). Assessing the utility of frequency tagging for tracking memory-based reactivation of word representations. Scientific Reports, 8: 7897. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-26091-3.

    Abstract

    Reinstatement of memory-related neural activity measured with high temporal precision potentially provides a useful index for real-time monitoring of the timing of activation of memory content during cognitive processing. The utility of such an index extends to any situation where one is interested in the (relative) timing of activation of different sources of information in memory, a paradigm case of which is tracking lexical activation during language processing. Essential for this approach is that memory reinstatement effects are robust, so that their absence (in the average) definitively indicates that no lexical activation is present. We used electroencephalography to test the robustness of a reported subsequent memory finding involving reinstatement of frequency-specific entrained oscillatory brain activity during subsequent recognition. Participants learned lists of words presented on a background flickering at either 6 or 15 Hz to entrain a steady-state brain response. Target words subsequently presented on a non-flickering background that were correctly identified as previously seen exhibited reinstatement effects at both entrainment frequencies. Reliability of these statistical inferences was however critically dependent on the approach used for multiple comparisons correction. We conclude that effects are not robust enough to be used as a reliable index of lexical activation during language processing.

    Supplementary material

    Lewis_etal_2018sup.docx
  • Lopopolo, A., Frank, S. L., Van den Bosch, A., Nijhof, A., & Willems, R. M. (2018). The Narrative Brain Dataset (NBD), an fMRI dataset for the study of natural language processing in the brain. In B. Devereux, E. Shutova, & C.-R. Huang (Eds.), Proceedings of LREC 2018 Workshop "Linguistic and Neuro-Cognitive Resources (LiNCR) (pp. 8-11). Paris: LREC.

    Abstract

    We present the Narrative Brain Dataset, an fMRI dataset that was collected during spoken presentation of short excerpts of three stories in Dutch. Together with the brain imaging data, the dataset contains the written versions of the stimulation texts. The texts are accompanied with stochastic (perplexity and entropy) and semantic computational linguistic measures. The richness and unconstrained nature of the data allows the study of language processing in the brain in a more naturalistic setting than is common for fMRI studies. We hope that by making NBD available we serve the double purpose of providing useful neural data to researchers interested in natural language processing in the brain and to further stimulate data sharing in the field of neuroscience of language.
  • Meyer, A. S., Alday, P. M., Decuyper, C., & Knudsen, B. (2018). Working together: Contributions of corpus analyses and experimental psycholinguistics to understanding conversation. Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 525. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00525.

    Abstract

    As conversation is the most important way of using language, linguists and psychologists should combine forces to investigate how interlocutors deal with the cognitive demands arising during conversation. Linguistic analyses of corpora of conversation are needed to understand the structure of conversations, and experimental work is indispensable for understanding the underlying cognitive processes. We argue that joint consideration of corpus and experimental data is most informative when the utterances elicited in a lab experiment match those extracted from a corpus in relevant ways. This requirement to compare like with like seems obvious but is not trivial to achieve. To illustrate this approach, we report two experiments where responses to polar (yes/no) questions were elicited in the lab and the response latencies were compared to gaps between polar questions and answers in a corpus of conversational speech. We found, as expected, that responses were given faster when they were easy to plan and planning could be initiated earlier than when they were harder to plan and planning was initiated later. Overall, in all but one condition, the latencies were longer than one would expect based on the analyses of corpus data. We discuss the implication of this partial match between the data sets and more generally how corpus and experimental data can best be combined in studies of conversation.

    Supplementary material

    Data_Sheet_1.pdf
  • Misersky, J., Majid, A., & Snijders, T. M. (2018). Grammatical gender in German influences how role-nouns are interpreted: Evidence from ERPs. Discourse Processes. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2018.1541382.

    Abstract

    Grammatically masculine role-nouns (e.g., Studentenmasc.‘students’) can refer to men and women but may favor an interpretation where only men are considered the referent. If true, this has implications for a society aiming to achieve equal representation in the workplace since, for example, job adverts use such role descriptions. To investigate the interpretation of role-nouns, the present ERP study assessed grammatical gender processing in German. Twenty participants read sentences where a role-noun (masculine or feminine) introduced a group of people, followed by a congruent (masculine–men, feminine–women) or incongruent (masculine–women, feminine–men) continuation. Both for feminine-men and masculine-women continuations a P600 (500 to 800 ms) was observed; another positivity was already present from 300 to 500 ms for feminine-men continuations but critically not for masculine-women continuations. The results imply a male-biased rather than gender-neutral interpretation of the masculine—despite widespread usage of the masculine as a gender-neutral form—suggesting that masculine forms are inadequate for representing genders equally.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Politzer-Ahles, S., Heyselaar, E., Segaert, K., Darley, E., Kazanina, N., Von Grebmer Zu Wolfsthurn, S., Bartolozzi, F., Kogan, V., Ito, A., Mézière, D., Barr, D. J., Rousselet, G., Ferguson, H. J., Busch-Moreno, S., Fu, X., Tuomainen, J., Kulakova, E., Husband, E. M., Donaldson, D. I., Kohút, Z., Rueschemeyer, S.-A., & Huettig, F. (2018). Large-scale replication study reveals a limit on probabilistic prediction in language comprehension. eLife, 7: e33468. doi:10.7554/eLife.33468.

    Abstract

    Do people routinely pre-activate the meaning and even the phonological form of upcoming words? The most acclaimed evidence for phonological prediction comes from a 2005 Nature Neuroscience publication by DeLong, Urbach and Kutas, who observed a graded modulation of electrical brain potentials (N400) to nouns and preceding articles by the probability that people use a word to continue the sentence fragment (‘cloze’). In our direct replication study spanning 9 laboratories (N=334), pre-registered replication-analyses and exploratory Bayes factor analyses successfully replicated the noun-results but, crucially, not the article-results. Pre-registered single-trial analyses also yielded a statistically significant effect for the nouns but not the articles. Exploratory Bayesian single-trial analyses showed that the article-effect may be non-zero but is likely far smaller than originally reported and too small to observe without very large sample sizes. Our results do not support the view that readers routinely pre-activate the phonological form of predictable words.

    Supplementary material

    Data sets
  • Pascucci, D., Hervais-Adelman, A., & Plomp, G. (2018). Gating by induced A-Gamma asynchrony in selective attention. Human Brain Mapping, 39(10), 3854-3870. doi:10.1002/hbm.24216.

    Abstract

    Visual selective attention operates through top–down mechanisms of signal enhancement and suppression, mediated by a-band oscillations. The effects of such top–down signals on local processing in primary visual cortex (V1) remain poorly understood. In this work, we characterize the interplay between large-s cale interactions and local activity changes in V1 that orchestrat es selective attention, using Granger-causality and phase-amplitude coupling (PAC) analysis of EEG source signals. The task required participants to either attend to or ignore oriented gratings. Results from time-varying, directed connectivity analysis revealed frequency-specific effects of attentional selection: bottom–up g-band influences from visual areas increased rapidly in response to attended stimuli while distributed top–down a-band influences originated from parietal cortex in response to ignored stimuli. Importantly, the results revealed a critical interplay between top–down parietal signals and a–g PAC in visual areas. Parietal a-band influences disrupted the a–g coupling in visual cortex, which in turn reduced the amount of g-band outflow from visual area s. Our results are a first demon stration of how directed interactions affect cross-frequency coupling in downstream areas depending on task demands. These findings suggest that parietal cortex realizes selective attention by disrupting cross-frequency coupling at target regions, which prevents them from propagating task-irrelevant information.
  • Peeters, D. (2018). A standardized set of 3D-objects for virtual reality research and applications. Behavior Research Methods, 50(3), 1047-1054. doi:10.3758/s13428-017-0925-3.

    Abstract

    The use of immersive virtual reality as a research tool is rapidly increasing in numerous scientific disciplines. By combining ecological validity with strict experimental control, immersive virtual reality provides the potential to develop and test scientific theory in rich environments that closely resemble everyday settings. This article introduces the first standardized database of colored three-dimensional (3D) objects that can be used in virtual reality and augmented reality research and applications. The 147 objects have been normed for name agreement, image agreement, familiarity, visual complexity, and corresponding lexical characteristics of the modal object names. The availability of standardized 3D-objects for virtual reality research is important, as reaching valid theoretical conclusions critically hinges on the use of well controlled experimental stimuli. Sharing standardized 3D-objects across different virtual reality labs will allow for science to move forward more quickly.
  • Peeters, D., & Dijkstra, T. (2018). Sustained inhibition of the native language in bilingual language production: A virtual reality approach. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(5), 1035-1061. doi:10.1017/S1366728917000396.

    Abstract

    Bilinguals often switch languages as a function of the language background of their addressee. The control mechanisms supporting bilinguals' ability to select the contextually appropriate language are heavily debated. Here we present four experiments in which unbalanced bilinguals named pictures in their first language Dutch and their second language English in mixed and blocked contexts. Immersive virtual reality technology was used to increase the ecological validity of the cued language-switching paradigm. Behaviorally, we consistently observed symmetrical switch costs, reversed language dominance, and asymmetrical mixing costs. These findings indicate that unbalanced bilinguals apply sustained inhibition to their dominant L1 in mixed language settings. Consequent enhanced processing costs for the L1 in a mixed versus a blocked context were reflected by a sustained positive component in event-related potentials. Methodologically, the use of virtual reality opens up a wide range of possibilities to study language and communication in bilingual and other communicative settings.
  • Poletiek, F. H., Conway, C. M., Ellefson, M. R., Lai, J., Bocanegra, B. R., & Christiansen, M. H. (2018). Under what conditions can recursion be learned? Effects of starting small in artificial grammar learning of recursive structure. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 2855-2889. doi:10.1111/cogs.12685.

    Abstract

    It has been suggested that external and/or internal limitations paradoxically may lead to superior learning, that is, the concepts of starting small and less is more (Elman, 1993; Newport, 1990). In this paper, we explore the type of incremental ordering during training that might help learning, and what mechanism explains this facilitation. We report four artificial grammar learning experiments with human participants. In Experiments 1a and 1b we found a beneficial effect of starting small using two types of simple recursive grammars: right‐branching and center‐embedding, with recursive embedded clauses in fixed positions and fixed length. This effect was replicated in Experiment 2 (N = 100). In Experiment 3 and 4, we used a more complex center‐embedded grammar with recursive loops in variable positions, producing strings of variable length. When participants were presented an incremental ordering of training stimuli, as in natural language, they were better able to generalize their knowledge of simple units to more complex units when the training input “grew” according to structural complexity, compared to when it “grew” according to string length. Overall, the results suggest that starting small confers an advantage for learning complex center‐embedded structures when the input is organized according to structural complexity.
  • Segaert, K., Mazaheri, A., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Binding language: Structuring sentences through precisely timed oscillatory mechanisms. European Journal of Neuroscience, 48(7), 2651-2662. doi:10.1111/ejn.13816.

    Abstract

    Syntactic binding refers to combining words into larger structures. Using EEG, we investigated the neural processes involved in syntactic binding. Participants were auditorily presented two-word sentences (i.e. pronoun and pseudoverb such as ‘I grush’, ‘she grushes’, for which syntactic binding can take place) and wordlists (i.e. two pseudoverbs such as ‘pob grush’, ‘pob grushes’, for which no binding occurs). Comparing these two conditions, we targeted syntactic binding while minimizing contributions of semantic binding and of other cognitive processes such as working memory. We found a converging pattern of results using two distinct analysis approaches: one approach using frequency bands as defined in previous literature, and one data-driven approach in which we looked at the entire range of frequencies between 3-30 Hz without the constraints of pre-defined frequency bands. In the syntactic binding (relative to the wordlist) condition, a power increase was observed in the alpha and beta frequency range shortly preceding the presentation of the target word that requires binding, which was maximal over frontal-central electrodes. Our interpretation is that these signatures reflect that language comprehenders expect the need for binding to occur. Following the presentation of the target word in a syntactic binding context (relative to the wordlist condition), an increase in alpha power maximal over a left lateralized cluster of frontal-temporal electrodes was observed. We suggest that this alpha increase relates to syntactic binding taking place. Taken together, our findings suggest that increases in alpha and beta power are reflections of distinct the neural processes underlying syntactic binding.
  • Silva, S., Folia, V., Inácio, F., Castro, S. L., & Petersson, K. M. (2018). Modality effects in implicit artificial grammar learning: An EEG study. Brain Research, 1687, 50-59. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2018.02.020.

    Abstract

    Recently, it has been proposed that sequence learning engages a combination of modality-specific operating networks and modality-independent computational principles. In the present study, we compared the behavioural and EEG outcomes of implicit artificial grammar learning in the visual vs. auditory modality. We controlled for the influence of surface characteristics of sequences (Associative Chunk Strength), thus focusing on the strictly structural aspects of sequence learning, and we adapted the paradigms to compensate for known frailties of the visual modality compared to audition (temporal presentation, fast presentation rate). The behavioural outcomes were similar across modalities. Favouring the idea of modality-specificity, ERPs in response to grammar violations differed in topography and latency (earlier and more anterior component in the visual modality), and ERPs in response to surface features emerged only in the auditory modality. In favour of modality-independence, we observed three common functional properties in the late ERPs of the two grammars: both were free of interactions between structural and surface influences, both were more extended in a grammaticality classification test than in a preference classification test, and both correlated positively and strongly with theta event-related-synchronization during baseline testing. Our findings support the idea of modality-specificity combined with modality-independence, and suggest that memory for visual vs. auditory sequences may largely contribute to cross-modal differences.
  • Tan, Y., & Martin, R. C. (2018). Verbal short-term memory capacities and executive function in semantic and syntactic interference resolution during sentence comprehension: Evidence from aphasia. Neuropsychologia, 113, 111-125. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.03.001.

    Abstract

    This study examined the role of verbal short-term memory (STM) and executive function (EF) underlying semantic and syntactic interference resolution during sentence comprehension for persons with aphasia (PWA) with varying degrees of STM and EF deficits. Semantic interference was manipulated by varying the semantic plausibility of the intervening NP as subject of the verb and syntactic interference was manipulated by varying whether the NP was another subject or an object. Nine PWA were assessed on sentence reading times and on comprehension question performance. PWA showed exaggerated semantic and syntactic interference effects relative to healthy age-matched control subjects. Importantly, correlational analyses showed that while answering comprehension questions, PWA’ semantic STM capacity related to their ability to resolve semantic but not syntactic interference. In contrast, PWA’ EF abilities related to their ability to resolve syntactic but not semantic interference. Phonological STM deficits were not related to the ability to resolve either type of interference. The results for semantic STM are consistent with prior findings indicating a role for semantic but not phonological STM in sentence comprehension, specifically with regard to maintaining semantic information prior to integration. The results for syntactic interference are consistent with the recent findings suggesting that EF is critical for syntactic processing.
  • Tromp, J., Peeters, D., Meyer, A. S., & Hagoort, P. (2018). The combined use of Virtual Reality and EEG to study language processing in naturalistic environments. Behavior Research Methods, 50(2), 862-869. doi:10.3758/s13428-017-0911-9.

    Abstract

    When we comprehend language, we often do this in rich settings in which we can use many cues to understand what someone is saying. However, it has traditionally been difficult to design experiments with rich three-dimensional contexts that resemble our everyday environments, while maintaining control over the linguistic and non-linguistic information that is available. Here we test the validity of combining electroencephalography (EEG) and Virtual Reality (VR) to overcome this problem. We recorded electrophysiological brain activity during language processing in a well-controlled three-dimensional virtual audiovisual environment. Participants were immersed in a virtual restaurant, while wearing EEG equipment. In the restaurant participants encountered virtual restaurant guests. Each guest was seated at a separate table with an object on it (e.g. a plate with salmon). The restaurant guest would then produce a sentence (e.g. “I just ordered this salmon.”). The noun in the spoken sentence could either match (“salmon”) or mismatch (“pasta”) with the object on the table, creating a situation in which the auditory information was either appropriate or inappropriate in the visual context. We observed a reliable N400 effect as a consequence of the mismatch. This finding validates the combined use of VR and EEG as a tool to study the neurophysiological mechanisms of everyday language comprehension in rich, ecologically valid settings.
  • Trujillo, J. P., Simanova, I., Bekkering, H., & Ozyurek, A. (2018). Communicative intent modulates production and perception of actions and gestures: A Kinect study. Cognition, 180, 38-51. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.04.003.

    Abstract

    Actions may be used to directly act on the world around us, or as a means of communication. Effective communication requires the addressee to recognize the act as being communicative. Humans are sensitive to ostensive communicative cues, such as direct eye gaze (Csibra & Gergely, 2009). However, there may be additional cues present in the action or gesture itself. Here we investigate features that characterize the initiation of a communicative interaction in both production and comprehension. We asked 40 participants to perform 31 pairs of object-directed actions and representational gestures in more- or less- communicative contexts. Data were collected using motion capture technology for kinematics and video recording for eye-gaze. With these data, we focused on two issues. First, if and how actions and gestures are systematically modulated when performed in a communicative context. Second, if observers exploit such kinematic information to classify an act as communicative. Our study showed that during production the communicative context modulates space–time dimensions of kinematics and elicits an increase in addressee-directed eye-gaze. Naïve participants detected communicative intent in actions and gestures preferentially using eye-gaze information, only utilizing kinematic information when eye-gaze was unavailable. Our study highlights the general communicative modulation of action and gesture kinematics during production but also shows that addressees only exploit this modulation to recognize communicative intention in the absence of eye-gaze. We discuss these findings in terms of distinctive but potentially overlapping functions of addressee directed eye-gaze and kinematic modulations within the wider context of human communication and learning.
  • Van Bergen, G., & Bosker, H. R. (2018). Linguistic expectation management in online discourse processing: An investigation of Dutch inderdaad 'indeed' and eigenlijk 'actually'. Journal of Memory and Language, 103, 191-209. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2018.08.004.

    Abstract

    Interpersonal discourse particles (DPs), such as Dutch inderdaad (≈‘indeed’) and eigenlijk (≈‘actually’) are highly frequent in everyday conversational interaction. Despite extensive theoretical descriptions of their polyfunctionality, little is known about how they are used by language comprehenders. In two visual world eye-tracking experiments involving an online dialogue completion task, we asked to what extent inderdaad, confirming an inferred expectation, and eigenlijk, contrasting with an inferred expectation, influence real-time understanding of dialogues. Answers in the dialogues contained a DP or a control adverb, and a critical discourse referent was replaced by a beep; participants chose the most likely dialogue completion by clicking on one of four referents in a display. Results show that listeners make rapid and fine-grained situation-specific inferences about the use of DPs, modulating their expectations about how the dialogue will unfold. Findings further specify and constrain theories about the conversation-managing function and polyfunctionality of DPs.
  • Van den Broek, G., Takashima, A., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2018). Contextual Richness and Word Learning: Context Enhances Comprehension but Retrieval Enhances Retention. Language Learning, 68(2), 546-585. doi:10.1111/lang.12285.

    Abstract

    Learning new vocabulary from context typically requires multiple encounters during which word meaning can be retrieved from memory or inferred from context. We compared the effect of memory retrieval and context inferences on short‐ and long‐term retention in three experiments. Participants studied novel words and then practiced the words either in an uninformative context that required the retrieval of word meaning from memory (“I need the funguo”) or in an informative context from which word meaning could be inferred (“I want to unlock the door: I need the funguo”). The informative context facilitated word comprehension during practice. However, later recall of word form and meaning and word recognition in a new context were better after successful retrieval practice and retrieval practice with feedback than after context‐inference practice. These findings suggest benefits of retrieval during contextualized vocabulary learning whereby the uninformative context enhanced word retention by triggering memory retrieval.
  • Van Campen, A. D., Kunert, R., Van den Wildenberg, W. P. M., & Ridderinkhof, K. R. (2018). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over inferior frontal cortex impairs the suppression (but not expression) of action impulses during action conflict. Psychophysiology, 55(3): e13003. doi:10.1111/psyp.13003.

    Abstract

    In the recent literature, the effects of noninvasive neurostimulation on cognitive functioning appear to lack consistency and replicability. We propose that such effects may be concealed unless dedicated, sensitive, and process-specific dependent measures are used. The expression and subsequent suppression of response capture are often studied using conflict tasks. Response-time distribution analyses have been argued to provide specific measures of the susceptibility to make fast impulsive response errors, as well as the proficiency of the selective suppression of these impulses. These measures of response capture and response inhibition are particularly sensitive to experimental manipulations and clinical deficiencies that are typically obfuscated in commonly used overall performance analyses. Recent work using structural and functional imaging techniques links these behavioral outcome measures to the integrity of frontostriatal networks. These studies suggest that the presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA) is linked to the susceptibility to response capture whereas the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) is associated with the selective suppression of action impulses. Here, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to test the causal involvement of these two cortical areas in response capture and inhibition in the Simon task. Disruption of rIFC function specifically impaired selective suppression of conflicting action tendencies, whereas the anticipated increase of fast impulsive errors after perturbing pre-SMA function was not confirmed. These results provide a proof of principle of the notion that the selection of appropriate dependent measures is perhaps crucial to establish the effects of neurostimulation on specific cognitive functions.
  • Vanlangendonck, F., Takashima, A., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Distinguishable memory retrieval networks for collaboratively and non-collaboratively learned information. Neuropsychologia, 111, 123-132. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.12.008.

    Abstract

    Learning often occurs in communicative and collaborative settings, yet almost all research into the neural basis of memory relies on participants encoding and retrieving information on their own. We investigated whether learning linguistic labels in a collaborative context at least partly relies on cognitively and neurally distinct representations, as compared to learning in an individual context. Healthy human participants learned labels for sets of abstract shapes in three different tasks. They came up with labels with another person in a collaborative communication task (collaborative condition), by themselves (individual condition), or were given pre-determined unrelated labels to learn by themselves (arbitrary condition). Immediately after learning, participants retrieved and produced the labels aloud during a communicative task in the MRI scanner. The fMRI results show that the retrieval of collaboratively generated labels as compared to individually learned labels engages brain regions involved in understanding others (mentalizing or theory of mind) and autobiographical memory, including the medial prefrontal cortex, the right temporoparietal junction and the precuneus. This study is the first to show that collaboration during encoding affects the neural networks involved in retrieval.
  • Vanlangendonck, F., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Taking common ground into account: Specifying the role of the mentalizing network in communicative language production. PLoS One, 13(10): e0202943. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202943.
  • Varma, S., Daselaar, S. M., Kessels, R. P. C., & Takashima, A. (2018). Promotion and suppression of autobiographical thinking differentially affect episodic memory consolidation. PLoS One, 13(8): e0201780. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0201780.

    Abstract

    During a post-encoding delay period, the ongoing consolidation of recently acquired memories can suffer interference if the delay period involves encoding of new memories, or sensory stimulation tasks. Interestingly, two recent independent studies suggest that (i) autobiographical thinking also interferes markedly with ongoing consolidation of recently learned wordlist material, while (ii) a 2-Back task might not interfere with ongoing consolidation, possibly due to the suppression of autobiographical thinking. In this study, we directly compare these conditions against a quiet wakeful rest baseline to test whether the promotion (via familiar sound-cues) or suppression (via a 2-Back task) of autobiographical thinking during the post-encoding delay period can affect consolidation of studied wordlists in a negative or a positive way, respectively. Our results successfully replicate previous studies and show a significant interference effect (as compared to the rest condition) when learning is followed by familiar sound-cues that promote autobiographical thinking, whereas no interference effect is observed when learning is followed by the 2-Back task. Results from a post-experimental experience-sampling questionnaire further show significant differences in the degree of autobiographical thinking reported during the three post-encoding periods: highest in the presence of sound-cues and lowest during the 2-Back task. In conclusion, our results suggest that varying levels of autobiographical thought during the post-encoding period may modulate episodic memory consolidation.
  • Wang, L., Hagoort, P., & Jensen, O. (2018). Language prediction is reflected by coupling between frontal gamma and posterior alpha oscillations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(3), 432-447. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01190.

    Abstract

    Readers and listeners actively predict upcoming words during language processing. These predictions might serve to support the unification of incoming words into sentence context and thus rely on interactions between areas in the language network. In the current magnetoencephalography study, participants read sentences that varied in contextual constraints so that the predictability of the sentence-final words was either high or low. Before the sentence-final words, we observed stronger alpha power suppression for the highly compared with low constraining sentences in the left inferior frontal cortex, left posterior temporal region, and visual word form area. Importantly, the temporal and visual word form area alpha power correlated negatively with left frontal gamma power for the highly constraining sentences. We suggest that the correlation between alpha power decrease in temporal language areas and left prefrontal gamma power reflects the initiation of an anticipatory unification process in the language network.
  • Wang, L., Hagoort, P., & Jensen, O. (2018). Gamma oscillatory activity related to language prediction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(8), 1075-1085. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01275.

    Abstract

    Using magnetoencephalography, the current study examined gamma activity associated with language prediction. Participants read high- and low-constraining sentences in which the final word of the sentence was either expected or unexpected. Although no consistent gamma power difference induced by the sentence-final words was found between the expected and unexpected conditions, the correlation of gamma power during the prediction and activation intervals of the sentence-final words was larger when the presented words matched with the prediction compared with when the prediction was violated or when no prediction was available. This suggests that gamma magnitude relates to the match between predicted and perceived words. Moreover, the expected words induced activity with a slower gamma frequency compared with that induced by unexpected words. Overall, the current study establishes that prediction is related to gamma power correlations and a slowing of the gamma frequency.
  • Yang, J., Zhu, H., & Tian, X. (2018). Group-level multivariate analysis in EasyEEG toolbox: Examining the temporal dynamics using topographic responses. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12: 468. doi:10.3389/fnins.2018.00468.

    Abstract

    Electroencephalography (EEG) provides high temporal resolution cognitive information from non-invasive recordings. However, one of the common practices-using a subset of sensors in ERP analysis is hard to provide a holistic and precise dynamic results. Selecting or grouping subsets of sensors may also be subject to selection bias, multiple comparison, and further complicated by individual differences in the group-level analysis. More importantly, changes in neural generators and variations in response magnitude from the same neural sources are difficult to separate, which limit the capacity of testing different aspects of cognitive hypotheses. We introduce EasyEEG, a toolbox that includes several multivariate analysis methods to directly test cognitive hypotheses based on topographic responses that include data from all sensors. These multivariate methods can investigate effects in the dimensions of response magnitude and topographic patterns separately using data in the sensor space, therefore enable assessing neural response dynamics. The concise workflow and the modular design provide user-friendly and programmer-friendly features. Users of all levels can benefit from the open-sourced, free EasyEEG to obtain a straightforward solution for efficient processing of EEG data and a complete pipeline from raw data to final results for publication.
  • Aparicio, X., Heidlmayr, K., & Isel, F. (2017). Inhibition Efficiency in Highly Proficient Bilinguals and Simultaneous Interpreters: Evidence from Language Switching and Stroop Tasks. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 46, 1427-1451. doi:10.1007/s10936-017-9501-3.

    Abstract

    The present behavioral study aimed to examine the impact of language control expertise on two domain-general control processes, i.e. active inhibition of competing representations and overcoming of inhibition. We compared how Simultaneous Interpreters (SI) and Highly Proficient Bilinguals—two groups assumed to differ in language control capacity—performed executive tasks involving specific inhibition processes. In Experiment 1 (language decision task), both active and overcoming of inhibition processes are involved, while in Experiment 2 (bilingual Stroop task) only interference suppression is supposed to be required. The results of Experiment 1 showed a language switching effect only for the highly proficient bilinguals, potentially because overcoming of inhibition requires more cognitive resources than in SI. Nevertheless, both groups performed similarly on the Stroop task in Experiment 2, which suggests that active inhibition may work similarly in both groups. These contrasting results suggest that overcoming of inhibition may be harder to master than active inhibition. Taken together, these data indicate that some executive control processes may be less sensitive to the degree of expertise in bilingual language control than others. Our findings lend support to psycholinguistic models of bilingualism postulating a higher-order mechanism regulating language activation.
  • Armeni, K., Willems, R. M., & Frank, S. (2017). Probabilistic language models in cognitive neuroscience: Promises and pitfalls. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 579-588. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.001.

    Abstract

    Cognitive neuroscientists of language comprehension study how neural computations relate to cognitive computations during comprehension. On the cognitive part of the equation, it is important that the computations and processing complexity are explicitly defined. Probabilistic language models can be used to give a computationally explicit account of language complexity during comprehension. Whereas such models have so far predominantly been evaluated against behavioral data, only recently have the models been used to explain neurobiological signals. Measures obtained from these models emphasize the probabilistic, information-processing view of language understanding and provide a set of tools that can be used for testing neural hypotheses about language comprehension. Here, we provide a cursory review of the theoretical foundations and example neuroimaging studies employing probabilistic language models. We highlight the advantages and potential pitfalls of this approach and indicate avenues for future research
  • De Boer, M., Kokal, I., Blokpoel, M., Liu, R., Stolk, A., Roelofs, K., Van Rooij, I., & Toni, I. (2017). Oxytocin modulates human communication by enhancing cognitive exploration. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 64-72. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.09.010.

    Abstract

    Oxytocin is a neuropeptide known to influence how humans share material resources. Here we explore whether oxytocin influences how we share knowledge. We focus on two distinguishing features of human communication, namely the ability to select communicative signals that disambiguate the many-to-many mappings that exist between a signal’s form and meaning, and adjustments of those signals to the presumed cognitive characteristics of the addressee (“audience design”). Fifty-five males participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled experiment involving the intranasal administration of oxytocin. The participants produced novel non-verbal communicative signals towards two different addressees, an adult or a child, in an experimentally-controlled live interactive setting. We found that oxytocin administration drives participants to generate signals of higher referential quality, i.e. signals that disambiguate more communicative problems; and to rapidly adjust those communicative signals to what the addressee understands. The combined effects of oxytocin on referential quality and audience design fit with the notion that oxytocin administration leads participants to explore more pervasively behaviors that can convey their intention, and diverse models of the addressees. These findings suggest that, besides affecting prosocial drive and salience of social cues, oxytocin influences how we share knowledge by promoting cognitive exploration
  • Bosker, H. R., & Kösem, A. (2017). An entrained rhythm's frequency, not phase, influences temporal sampling of speech. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 2416-2420). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-73.

    Abstract

    Brain oscillations have been shown to track the slow amplitude fluctuations in speech during comprehension. Moreover, there is evidence that these stimulus-induced cortical rhythms may persist even after the driving stimulus has ceased. However, how exactly this neural entrainment shapes speech perception remains debated. This behavioral study investigated whether and how the frequency and phase of an entrained rhythm would influence the temporal sampling of subsequent speech. In two behavioral experiments, participants were presented with slow and fast isochronous tone sequences, followed by Dutch target words ambiguous between as /ɑs/ “ash” (with a short vowel) and aas /a:s/ “bait” (with a long vowel). Target words were presented at various phases of the entrained rhythm. Both experiments revealed effects of the frequency of the tone sequence on target word perception: fast sequences biased listeners to more long /a:s/ responses. However, no evidence for phase effects could be discerned. These findings show that an entrained rhythm’s frequency, but not phase, influences the temporal sampling of subsequent speech. These outcomes are compatible with theories suggesting that sensory timing is evaluated relative to entrained frequency. Furthermore, they suggest that phase tracking of (syllabic) rhythms by theta oscillations plays a limited role in speech parsing.

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