Displaying 1 - 58 of 58
Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Reis, A., Marques, J. F., & Petersson, K. M. (2016). Visual naming deficits in dyslexia: An ERP investigation of different processing domains. Neuropsychologia, 91, 61-76. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.07.007.
AbstractNaming speed deficits are well documented in developmental dyslexia, expressed by slower naming times and more errors in response to familiar items. Here we used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine at what processing level the deficits in dyslexia emerge during a discrete-naming task. Dyslexic and skilled adult control readers performed a primed object-naming task, in which the relationship between the prime and the target was manipulated along perceptual, semantic and phonological dimensions. A 3×2 design that crossed Relationship Type (Visual, Phonemic Onset, and Semantic) with Relatedness (Related and Unrelated) was used. An attenuated N/P190 – indexing early visual processing – and N300 – which index late visual processing – was observed to pictures preceded by perceptually related (vs. unrelated) primes in the control but not in the dyslexic group. These findings suggest suboptimal processing in early stages of object processing in dyslexia, when integration and mapping of perceptual information to a more form-specific percept in memory take place. On the other hand, both groups showed an N400 effect associated with semantically related pictures (vs. unrelated), taken to reflect intact integration of semantic similarities in both dyslexic and control readers. We also found an electrophysiological effect of phonological priming in the N400 range – that is, an attenuated N400 to objects preceded by phonemic related primes vs. unrelated – while it showed a more widespread distributed and more pronounced over the right hemisphere in the dyslexics. Topographic differences between groups might have originated from a word form encoding process with different characteristics in dyslexics compared to control readers.
Asaridou, S. S., Takashima, A., Dediu, D., Hagoort, P., & McQueen, J. M. (2016). Repetition suppression in the left inferior frontal gyrus predicts tone learning performance. Cerebral Cortex, 26(6), 2728-2742. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv126.
AbstractDo individuals differ in how efficiently they process non-native sounds? To what extent do these differences relate to individual variability in sound-learning aptitude? We addressed these questions by assessing the sound-learning abilities of Dutch native speakers as they were trained on non-native tone contrasts. We used fMRI repetition suppression to the non-native tones to measure participants' neuronal processing efficiency before and after training. Although all participants improved in tone identification with training, there was large individual variability in learning performance. A repetition suppression effect to tone was found in the bilateral inferior frontal gyri (IFGs) before training. No whole-brain effect was found after training; a region-of-interest analysis, however, showed that, after training, repetition suppression to tone in the left IFG correlated positively with learning. That is, individuals who were better in learning the non-native tones showed larger repetition suppression in this area. Crucially, this was true even before training. These findings add to existing evidence that the left IFG plays an important role in sound learning and indicate that individual differences in learning aptitude stem from differences in the neuronal efficiency with which non-native sounds are processed.
Backus, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Szebényi, S., Hanslmayr, S., & Doeller, C. (2016). Hippocampal-prefrontal theta oscillations support memory integration. Current Biology, 26, 450-457. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.12.048.
AbstractIntegration of separate memories forms the basis of inferential reasoning - an essential cognitive process that enables complex behavior. Considerable evidence suggests that both hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) play a crucial role in memory integration. Although previous studies indicate that theta oscillations facilitate memory processes, the electrophysiological mechanisms underlying memory integration remain elusive. To bridge this gap, we recorded magnetoencephalography data while participants performed an inference task and employed novel source reconstruction techniques to estimate oscillatory signals from the hippocampus. We found that hippocampal theta power during encoding predicts subsequent memory integration. Moreover, we observed increased theta coherence between hippocampus and mPFC. Our results suggest that integrated memory representations arise through hippocampal theta oscillations, possibly reflecting dynamic switching between encoding and retrieval states, and facilitating communication with mPFC. These findings have important implications for our understanding of memory-based decision making and knowledge acquisition
Bastos, A. M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2016). A tutorial review of functional connectivity analysis methods and their interpretational pitfalls. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9: 175. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2015.00175.
AbstractOscillatory neuronal activity may provide a mechanism for dynamic network coordination. Rhythmic neuronal interactions can be quantified using multiple metrics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. This tutorial will review and summarize current analysis methods used in the field of invasive and non-invasive electrophysiology to study the dynamic connections between neuronal populations. First, we review metrics for functional connectivity, including coherence, phase synchronization, phase-slope index, and Granger causality, with the specific aim to provide an intuition for how these metrics work, as well as their quantitative definition. Next, we highlight a number of interpretational caveats and common pitfalls that can arise when performing functional connectivity analysis, including the common reference problem, the signal to noise ratio problem, the volume conduction problem, the common input problem, and the sample size bias problem. These pitfalls will be illustrated by presenting a set of MATLAB-scripts, which can be executed by the reader to simulate each of these potential problems. We discuss how these issues can be addressed using current methods.
Bramão, I., Reis, A., Petersson, K. M., & Faísca, L. (2016). Knowing that strawberries are red and seeing red strawberries: The interaction between surface colour and colour knowledge information. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 28(6), 641-657. doi:10.1080/20445911.2016.1182171.
Abstracthis study investigates the interaction between surface and colour knowledge information during object recognition. In two different experiments, participants were instructed to decide whether two presented stimuli belonged to the same object identity. On the non-matching trials, we manipulated the shape and colour knowledge information activated by the two stimuli by creating four different stimulus pairs: (1) similar in shape and colour (e.g. TOMATO–APPLE); (2) similar in shape and dissimilar in colour (e.g. TOMATO–COCONUT); (3) dissimilar in shape and similar in colour (e.g. TOMATO–CHILI PEPPER) and (4) dissimilar in both shape and colour (e.g. TOMATO–PEANUT). The object pictures were presented in typical and atypical colours and also in black-and-white. The interaction between surface and colour knowledge showed to be contingent upon shape information: while colour knowledge is more important for recognising structurally similar shaped objects, surface colour is more prominent for recognising structurally dissimilar shaped objects.
Broersma, M., Carter, D., & Acheson, D. J. (2016). Cognate costs in bilingual speech production: Evidence from language switching. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1461. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01461.
AbstractThis study investigates cross-language lexical competition in the bilingual mental lexicon. It provides evidence for the occurrence of inhibition as well as the commonly reported facilitation during the production of cognates (words with similar phonological form and meaning in two languages) in a mixed picture naming task by highly proficient Welsh-English bilinguals. Previous studies have typically found cognate facilitation. It has previously been proposed (with respect to non-cognates) that cross-language inhibition is limited to low-proficient bilinguals; therefore, we tested highly proficient, early bilinguals. In a mixed naming experiment (i.e., picture naming with language switching), 48 highly proficient, early Welsh-English bilinguals named pictures in Welsh and English, including cognate and non-cognate targets. Participants were English-dominant, Welsh-dominant, or had equal language dominance. The results showed evidence for cognate inhibition in two ways. First, both facilitation and inhibition were found on the cognate trials themselves, compared to non-cognate controls, modulated by the participants' language dominance. The English-dominant group showed cognate inhibition when naming in Welsh (and no difference between cognates and controls when naming in English), and the Welsh-dominant and equal dominance groups generally showed cognate facilitation. Second, cognate inhibition was found as a behavioral adaptation effect, with slower naming for non-cognate filler words in trials after cognates than after non-cognate controls. This effect was consistent across all language dominance groups and both target languages, suggesting that cognate production involved cognitive control even if this was not measurable in the cognate trials themselves. Finally, the results replicated patterns of symmetrical switch costs, as commonly reported for balanced bilinguals. We propose that cognate processing might be affected by two different processes, namely competition at the lexical-semantic level and facilitation at the word form level, and that facilitation at the word form level might (sometimes) outweigh any effects of inhibition at the lemma level. In sum, this study provides evidence that cognate naming can cause costs in addition to benefits. The finding of cognate inhibition, particularly for the highly proficient bilinguals tested, provides strong evidence for the occurrence of lexical competition across languages in the bilingual mental lexicon.
Chu, M., & Kita, S. (2016). Co-thought and Co-speech Gestures Are Generated by the Same Action Generation Process. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(2), 257-270. doi:10.1037/xlm0000168.
AbstractPeople spontaneously gesture when they speak (co-speech gestures) and when they solve problems silently (co-thought gestures). In this study, we first explored the relationship between these 2 types of gestures and found that individuals who produced co-thought gestures more frequently also produced co-speech gestures more frequently (Experiments 1 and 2). This suggests that the 2 types of gestures are generated from the same process. We then investigated whether both types of gestures can be generated from the representational use of the action generation process that also generates purposeful actions that have a direct physical impact on the world, such as manipulating an object or locomotion (the action generation hypothesis). To this end, we examined the effect of object affordances on the production of both types of gestures (Experiments 3 and 4). We found that individuals produced co-thought and co-speech gestures more often when the stimulus objects afforded action (objects with a smooth surface) than when they did not (objects with a spiky surface). These results support the action generation hypothesis for representational gestures. However, our findings are incompatible with the hypothesis that co-speech representational gestures are solely generated from the speech production process (the speech production hypothesis).
Coulson, S., & Lai, V. T. (
Eds.). (2016). The metaphorical brain [Research topic]. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi:10.3389/978-2-88919-772-9.
AbstractThis Frontiers Special Issue will synthesize current findings on the cognitive neuroscience of metaphor, provide a forum for voicing novel perspectives, and promote new insights into the metaphorical brain.
Dimitrova, D. V., Chu, M., Wang, L., Ozyurek, A., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Beat that word: How listeners integrate beat gesture and focus in multimodal speech discourse. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28(9), 1255-1269. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00963.
AbstractCommunication is facilitated when listeners allocate their attention to important information (focus) in the message, a process called "information structure." Linguistic cues like the preceding context and pitch accent help listeners to identify focused information. In multimodal communication, relevant information can be emphasized by nonverbal cues like beat gestures, which represent rhythmic nonmeaningful hand movements. Recent studies have found that linguistic and nonverbal attention cues are integrated independently in single sentences. However, it is possible that these two cues interact when information is embedded in context, because context allows listeners to predict what information is important. In an ERP study, we tested this hypothesis and asked listeners to view videos capturing a dialogue. In the critical sentence, focused and nonfocused words were accompanied by beat gestures, grooming hand movements, or no gestures. ERP results showed that focused words are processed more attentively than nonfocused words as reflected in an N1 and P300 component. Hand movements also captured attention and elicited a P300 component. Importantly, beat gesture and focus interacted in a late time window of 600-900 msec relative to target word onset, giving rise to a late positivity when nonfocused words were accompanied by beat gestures. Our results show that listeners integrate beat gesture with the focus of the message and that integration costs arise when beat gesture falls on nonfocused information. This suggests that beat gestures fulfill a unique focusing function in multimodal discourse processing and that they have to be integrated with the information structure of the message.
Francken, J. C. (2016). Viewing the world through language-tinted glasses: Elucidating the neural mechanisms of language-perception interactions. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Frank, S. L., & Fitz, H. (2016). Reservoir computing and the Sooner-is-Better bottleneck [Commentary on Christiansen & Slater]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39: e73. doi:10.1017/S0140525X15000783.
AbstractPrior language input is not lost but integrated with the current input. This principle is demonstrated by “reservoir computing”: Untrained recurrent neural networks project input sequences onto a random point in high-dimensional state space. Earlier inputs can be retrieved from this projection, albeit less reliably so as more input is received. The bottleneck is therefore not “Now-or-Never” but “Sooner-is-Better.
Gerwien, J., & Flecken, M. (2016). First things first? Top-down influences on event apprehension. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 2633-2638). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
AbstractNot much is known about event apprehension, the earliest stage of information processing in elicited language production studies, using pictorial stimuli. A reason for our lack of knowledge on this process is that apprehension happens very rapidly (<350 ms after stimulus onset, Griffin & Bock 2000), making it difficult to measure the process directly. To broaden our understanding of apprehension, we analyzed landing positions and onset latencies of first fixations on visual stimuli (pictures of real-world events) given short stimulus presentation times, presupposing that the first fixation directly results from information processing during apprehension
Gijssels, T., Staum Casasanto, L., Jasmin, K., Hagoort, P., & Casasanto, D. (2016). Speech accommodation without priming: The case of pitch. Discourse Processes, 53(4), 233-251. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2015.1023965.
AbstractPeople often accommodate to each other's speech by aligning their linguistic production with their partner's. According to an influential theory, the Interactive Alignment Model (Pickering & Garrod, 2004), alignment is the result of priming. When people perceive an utterance, the corresponding linguistic representations are primed, and become easier to produce. Here we tested this theory by investigating whether pitch (F0) alignment shows two characteristic signatures of priming: dose dependence and persistence. In a virtual reality experiment, we manipulated the pitch of a virtual interlocutor's speech to find out (a.) whether participants accommodated to the agent's F0, (b.) whether the amount of accommodation increased with increasing exposure to the agent's speech, and (c.) whether changes to participants' F0 persisted beyond the conversation. Participants accommodated to the virtual interlocutor, but accommodation did not increase in strength over the conversation, and it disappeared immediately after the conversation ended. Results argue against a priming-based account of F0 accommodation, and indicate that an alternative mechanism is needed to explain alignment along continuous dimensions of language such as speech rate and pitch.
Hagoort, P. (2016). MUC (Memory, Unification, Control): A Model on the Neurobiology of Language Beyond Single Word Processing. In G. Hickok, & S. Small (
Eds.), Neurobiology of language (pp. 339-347). Amsterdam: Elsever. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-407794-2.00028-6.
AbstractA neurobiological model of language is discussed that overcomes the shortcomings of the classical Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model. It is based on a subdivision of language processing into three components: Memory, Unification, and Control. The functional components as well as the neurobiological underpinnings of the model are discussed. In addition, the need for extension beyond the classical core regions for language is shown. Attentional networks as well as networks for inferential processing are crucial to realize language comprehension beyond single word processing and beyond decoding propositional content.
Hagoort, P. (2016). Zij zijn ons brein. In J. Brockman (
Ed.), Machines die denken: Invloedrijke denkers over de komst van kunstmatige intelligentie (pp. 184-186). Amsterdam: Maven Publishing.
Hartung, F., Burke, M., Hagoort, P., & Willems, R. M. (2016). Taking perspective: Personal pronouns affect experiential aspects of literary reading. PLoS One, 11(5): e0154732. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154732.
AbstractPersonal pronouns have been shown to influence cognitive perspective taking during comprehension. Studies using single sentences found that 3rd person pronouns facilitate the construction of a mental model from an observer’s perspective, whereas 2nd person pronouns support an actor’s perspective. The direction of the effect for 1st person pronouns seems to depend on the situational context. In the present study, we investigated how personal pronouns influence discourse comprehension when people read fiction stories and if this has consequences for affective components like emotion during reading or appreciation of the story. We wanted to find out if personal pronouns affect immersion and arousal, as well as appreciation of fiction. In a natural reading paradigm, we measured electrodermal activity and story immersion, while participants read literary stories with 1st and 3rd person pronouns referring to the protagonist. In addition, participants rated and ranked the stories for appreciation. Our results show that stories with 1st person pronouns lead to higher immersion. Two factors—transportation into the story world and mental imagery during reading—in particular showed higher scores for 1st person as compared to 3rd person pronoun stories. In contrast, arousal as measured by electrodermal activity seemed tentatively higher for 3rd person pronoun stories. The two measures of appreciation were not affected by the pronoun manipulation. Our findings underscore the importance of perspective for language processing, and additionally show which aspects of the narrative experience are influenced by a change in perspective.
Kösem, A., Basirat, A., Azizi, L., & van Wassenhove, V. (2016). High frequency neural activity predicts word parsing in ambiguous speech streams. Journal of Neurophysiology, 116(6), 2497-2512. doi:10.1152/jn.00074.2016.
AbstractDuring speech listening, the brain parses a continuous acoustic stream of information into computational units (e.g. syllables or words) necessary for speech comprehension. Recent neuroscientific hypotheses propose that neural oscillations contribute to speech parsing, but whether they do so on the basis of acoustic cues (bottom-up acoustic parsing) or as a function of available linguistic representations (top-down linguistic parsing) is unknown. In this magnetoencephalography study, we contrasted acoustic and linguistic parsing using bistable speech sequences. While listening to the speech sequences, participants were asked to maintain one of the two possible speech percepts through volitional control. We predicted that the tracking of speech dynamics by neural oscillations would not only follow the acoustic properties but also shift in time according to the participant’s conscious speech percept. Our results show that the latency of high-frequency activity (specifically, beta and gamma bands) varied as a function of the perceptual report. In contrast, the phase of low-frequency oscillations was not strongly affected by top-down control. While changes in low-frequency neural oscillations were compatible with the encoding of pre-lexical segmentation cues, high-frequency activity specifically informed on an individual’s conscious speech percept.
Files privateRequest files
Kunert, R., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). An independent psychometric evaluation of the PROMS measure of music perception skills. PLoS One, 11(7): e0159103. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159103.
AbstractThe Profile of Music Perception Skills (PROMS) is a recently developed measure of perceptual music skills which has been shown to have promising psychometric properties. In this paper we extend the evaluation of its brief version to three kinds of validity using an individual difference approach. The brief PROMS displays good discriminant validity with working memory, given that it does not correlate with backward digit span (r = .04). Moreover, it shows promising criterion validity (association with musical training (r = .45), musicianship status (r = .48), and self-rated musical talent (r = .51)). Finally, its convergent validity, i.e. relation to an unrelated measure of music perception skills, was assessed by correlating the brief PROMS to harmonic closure judgment accuracy. Two independent samples point to good convergent validity of the brief PROMS (r = .36; r = .40). The same association is still significant in one of the samples when including self-reported music skill in a partial correlation (rpartial = .30; rpartial = .17). Overall, the results show that the brief version of the PROMS displays a very good pattern of construct validity. Especially its tuning subtest stands out as a valuable part for music skill evaluations in Western samples. We conclude by briefly discussing the choice faced by music cognition researchers between different musical aptitude measures of which the brief PROMS is a well evaluated example.
Kunert, R. (2016). Internal conceptual replications do not increase independent replication success. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(5), 1631-1638. doi:10.3758/s13423-016-1030-9.
AbstractRecently, many psychological effects have been surprisingly difficult to reproduce. This article asks why, and investigates whether conceptually replicating an effect in the original publication is related to the success of independent, direct replications. Two prominent accounts of low reproducibility make different predictions in this respect. One account suggests that psychological phenomena are dependent on unknown contexts that are not reproduced in independent replication attempts. By this account, internal replications indicate that a finding is more robust and, thus, that it is easier to independently replicate it. An alternative account suggests that researchers employ questionable research practices (QRPs), which increase false positive rates. By this account, the success of internal replications may just be the result of QRPs and, thus, internal replications are not predictive of independent replication success. The data of a large reproducibility project support the QRP account: replicating an effect in the original publication is not related to independent replication success. Additional analyses reveal that internally replicated and internally unreplicated effects are not very different in terms of variables associated with replication success. Moreover, social psychological effects in particular appear to lack any benefit from internal replications. Overall, these results indicate that, in this dataset at least, the influence of QRPs is at the heart of failures to replicate psychological findings, especially in social psychology. Variable, unknown contexts appear to play only a relatively minor role. I recommend practical solutions for how QRPs can be avoided.
Kunert, R., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Language influences music harmony perception: effects of shared syntactic integration resources beyond attention. Royal Society Open Science, 3(2): 150685. doi:10.1098/rsos.150685.
AbstractMany studies have revealed shared music–language processing resources by finding an influence of music harmony manipulations on concurrent language processing. However, the nature of the shared resources has remained ambiguous. They have been argued to be syntax specific and thus due to shared syntactic integration resources. An alternative view regards them as related to general attention and, thus, not specific to syntax. The present experiments evaluated these accounts by investigating the influence of language on music. Participants were asked to provide closure judgements on harmonic sequences in order to assess the appropriateness of sequence endings. At the same time participants read syntactic garden-path sentences. Closure judgements revealed a change in harmonic processing as the result of reading a syntactically challenging word. We found no influence of an arithmetic control manipulation (experiment 1) or semantic garden-path sentences (experiment 2). Our results provide behavioural evidence for a specific influence of linguistic syntax processing on musical harmony judgements. A closer look reveals that the shared resources appear to be needed to hold a harmonic key online in some form of syntactic working memory or unification workspace related to the integration of chords and words. Overall, our results support the syntax specificity of shared music–language processing resources.
Lai, V. T., & Huettig, F. (2016). When prediction is fulfilled: Insight from emotion processing. Neuropsychologia, 85, 110-117. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.03.014.
AbstractResearch on prediction in language processing has focused predominantly on the function of predictive context and less on the potential contribution of the predicted word. The present study investigated how meaning that is not immediately prominent in the contents of predictions but is part of the predicted words influences sentence processing. We used emotional meaning to address this question. Participants read emotional and neutral words embedded in highly predictive and non-predictive sentential contexts, with the two sentential contexts rated similarly for their emotional ratings. Event Related Potential (ERP) effects of prediction and emotion both started at ~200 ms. Confirmed predictions elicited larger P200s than violated predictions when the target words were non-emotional (neutral), but such effect was absent when the target words were emotional. Likewise, emotional words elicited larger P200s than neutral words when the target words were non-predictive, but such effect were absent when the contexts were predictive. We conjecture that the prediction and emotion effects at ~200 ms may share similar neural process(es). We suggest that such process(es) could be affective, where confirmed predictions and word emotion give rise to ‘aha’ or reward feelings, and/or cognitive, where both prediction and word emotion quickly engage attention
Lam, N. H. L., Schoffelen, J.-M., Udden, J., Hulten, A., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Neural activity during sentence processing as reflected in theta, alpha, beta and gamma oscillations. NeuroImage, 142(15), 43-54. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.03.007.
AbstractWe used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to explore the spatio-temporal dynamics of neural oscillations associated with sentence processing, in 102 participants. We quantified changes in oscillatory power as the sentence unfolded, and in response to individual words in the sentence. For words early in a sentence compared to those late in the same sentence, we observed differences in left temporal and frontal areas, and bilateral frontal and right parietal regions for the theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands. The neural response to words in a sentence differed from the response to words in scrambled sentences in left-lateralized theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. The theta band effects suggest that a sentential context facilitates lexical retrieval, and that this facilitation is stronger for words late in the sentence. Effects in the alpha and beta band may reflect the unification of semantic and syntactic information, and are suggestive of easier unification late in a sentence. The gamma oscillations are indicative of predicting the upcoming word during sentence processing. In conclusion, changes in oscillatory neuronal activity capture aspects of sentence processing. Our results support earlier claims that language (sentence) processing recruits areas distributed across both hemispheres, and extends beyond the classical language regions
Leonard, M., Baud, M., Sjerps, M. J., & Chang, E. (2016). Perceptual restoration of masked speech in human cortex. Nature Communications, 7: 13619. doi:10.1038/ncomms13619.
AbstractHumans are adept at understanding speech despite the fact that our natural listening environment is often filled with interference. An example of this capacity is phoneme restoration, in which part of a word is completely replaced by noise, yet listeners report hearing the whole word. The neurological basis for this unconscious fill-in phenomenon is unknown, despite being a fundamental characteristic of human hearing. Here, using direct cortical recordings in humans, we demonstrate that missing speech is restored at the acoustic-phonetic level in bilateral auditory cortex, in real-time. This restoration is preceded by specific neural activity patterns in a separate language area, left frontal cortex, which predicts the word that participants later report hearing. These results demonstrate that during speech perception, missing acoustic content is synthesized online from the integration of incoming sensory cues and the internal neural dynamics that bias word-level expectation and prediction.
Lewis, A. G., Schoffelen, J.-M., Schriefers, H., & Bastiaansen, M. C. M. (2016). A Predictive Coding Perspective on Beta Oscillations during Sentence-Level Language Comprehension. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10: 85. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00085.
AbstractOscillatory neural dynamics have been steadily receiving more attention as a robust and temporally precise signature of network activity related to language processing. We have recently proposed that oscillatory dynamics in the beta and gamma frequency ranges measured during sentence-level comprehension might be best explained from a predictive coding perspective. Under our proposal we related beta oscillations to both the maintenance/change of the neural network configuration responsible for the construction and representation of sentence-level meaning, and to top–down predictions about upcoming linguistic input based on that sentence-level meaning. Here we zoom in on these particular aspects of our proposal, and discuss both old and new supporting evidence. Finally, we present some preliminary magnetoencephalography data from an experiment comparing Dutch subject- and object-relative clauses that was specifically designed to test our predictive coding framework. Initial results support the first of the two suggested roles for beta oscillations in sentence-level language comprehension.
Lewis, A. G., Lemhӧfer, K., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Schriefers, H. (2016). Gender agreement violations modulate beta oscillatory dynamics during sentence comprehension: A comparison of second language learners and native speakers. Neuropsychologia, 89(1), 254-272. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.06.031.
AbstractFor native speakers, many studies suggest a link between oscillatory neural activity in the beta frequency range and syntactic processing. For late second language (L2) learners on the other hand, the extent to which the neural architecture supporting syntactic processing is similar to or different from that of native speakers is still unclear. In a series of four experiments, we used electroencephalography to investigate the link between beta oscillatory activity and the processing of grammatical gender agreement in Dutch determiner-noun pairs, for Dutch native speakers, and for German L2 learners of Dutch. In Experiment 1 we show that for native speakers, grammatical gender agreement violations are yet another among many syntactic factors that modulate beta oscillatory activity during sentence comprehension. Beta power is higher for grammatically acceptable target words than for those that mismatch in grammatical gender with their preceding determiner. In Experiment 2 we observed no such beta modulations for L2 learners, irrespective of whether trials were sorted according to objective or subjective syntactic correctness. Experiment 3 ruled out that the absence of a beta effect for the L2 learners in Experiment 2 was due to repetition of the target nouns in objectively correct and incorrect determiner-noun pairs. Finally, Experiment 4 showed that when L2 learners are required to explicitly focus on grammatical information, they show modulations of beta oscillatory activity, comparable to those of native speakers, but only when trials are sorted according to participants’ idiosyncratic lexical representations of the grammatical gender of target nouns. Together, these findings suggest that beta power in L2 learners is sensitive to violations of grammatical gender agreement, but only when the importance of grammatical information is highlighted, and only when participants' subjective lexical representations are taken into account.
Lockwood, G. (2016). Academic clickbait: Articles with positively-framed titles, interesting phrasing, and no wordplay get more attention online. The Winnower, 3: e146723.36330. doi:10.15200/winn.146723.36330.
AbstractThis article is about whether the factors which drive online sharing of non-scholarly content also apply to academic journal titles. It uses Altmetric scores as a measure of online attention to articles from Frontiers in Psychology published in 2013 and 2014. Article titles with result-oriented positive framing and more interesting phrasing receive higher Altmetric scores, i.e., get more online attention. Article titles with wordplay and longer article titles receive lower Altmetric scores. This suggests that the same factors that affect how widely non-scholarly content is shared extend to academia, which has implications for how academics can make their work more likely to have more impact.
Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). How iconicity helps people learn new words: neural correlates and individual differences in sound-symbolic bootstrapping. Collabra, 2(1): 7. doi:10.1525/collabra.42.
AbstractSound symbolism is increasingly understood as involving iconicity, or perceptual analogies and cross-modal correspondences between form and meaning, but the search for its functional and neural correlates is ongoing. Here we study how people learn sound-symbolic words, using behavioural, electrophysiological and individual difference measures. Dutch participants learned Japanese ideophones —lexical sound-symbolic words— with a translation of either the real meaning (in which form and meaning show cross-modal correspondences) or the opposite meaning (in which form and meaning show cross-modal clashes). Participants were significantly better at identifying the words they learned in the real condition, correctly remembering the real word pairing 86.7% of the time, but the opposite word pairing only 71.3% of the time. Analysing event-related potentials (ERPs) during the test round showed that ideophones in the real condition elicited a greater P3 component and late positive complex than ideophones in the opposite condition. In a subsequent forced choice task, participants were asked to guess the real translation from two alternatives. They did this with 73.0% accuracy, well above chance level even for words they had encountered in the opposite condition, showing that people are generally sensitive to the sound-symbolic cues in ideophones. Individual difference measures showed that the ERP effect in the test round of the learning task was greater for participants who were more sensitive to sound symbolism in the forced choice task. The main driver of the difference was a lower amplitude of the P3 component in response to ideophones in the opposite condition, suggesting that people who are more sensitive to sound symbolism may have more difficulty to suppress conflicting cross-modal information. The findings provide new evidence that cross-modal correspondences between sound and meaning facilitate word learning, while cross-modal clashes make word learning harder, especially for people who are more sensitive to sound symbolism.
Lockwood, G., Dingemanse, M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Sound-symbolism boosts novel word learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(8), 1274-1281. doi:10.1037/xlm0000235.
AbstractThe existence of sound-symbolism (or a non-arbitrary link between form and meaning) is well-attested. However, sound-symbolism has mostly been investigated with nonwords in forced choice tasks, neither of which are representative of natural language. This study uses ideophones, which are naturally occurring sound-symbolic words that depict sensory information, to investigate how sensitive Dutch speakers are to sound-symbolism in Japanese in a learning task. Participants were taught 2 sets of Japanese ideophones; 1 set with the ideophones’ real meanings in Dutch, the other set with their opposite meanings. In Experiment 1, participants learned the ideophones and their real meanings much better than the ideophones with their opposite meanings. Moreover, despite the learning rounds, participants were still able to guess the real meanings of the ideophones in a 2-alternative forced-choice test after they were informed of the manipulation. This shows that natural language sound-symbolism is robust beyond 2-alternative forced-choice paradigms and affects broader language processes such as word learning. In Experiment 2, participants learned regular Japanese adjectives with the same manipulation, and there was no difference between real and opposite conditions. This shows that natural language sound-symbolism is especially strong in ideophones, and that people learn words better when form and meaning match. The highlights of this study are as follows: (a) Dutch speakers learn real meanings of Japanese ideophones better than opposite meanings, (b) Dutch speakers accurately guess meanings of Japanese ideophones, (c) this sensitivity happens despite learning some opposite pairings, (d) no such learning effect exists for regular Japanese adjectives, and (e) this shows the importance of sound-symbolism in scaffolding language learning
Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). Synthesized Size-Sound Sound Symbolism. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 1823-1828). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
AbstractStudies of sound symbolism have shown that people can associate sound and meaning in consistent ways when presented with maximally contrastive stimulus pairs of nonwords such as bouba/kiki (rounded/sharp) or mil/mal (small/big). Recent work has shown the effect extends to antonymic words from natural languages and has proposed a role for shared cross-modal correspondences in biasing form-to-meaning associations. An important open question is how the associations work, and particularly what the role is of sound-symbolic matches versus mismatches. We report on a learning task designed to distinguish between three existing theories by using a spectrum of sound-symbolically matching, mismatching, and neutral (neither matching nor mismatching) stimuli. Synthesized stimuli allow us to control for prosody, and the inclusion of a neutral condition allows a direct test of competing accounts. We find evidence for a sound-symbolic match boost, but not for a mismatch difficulty compared to the neutral condition.
Michalareas, G., Vezoli, J., Van Pelt, S., Schoffelen, J.-M., Kennedy, H., & Fries, P. (2016). Alpha-Beta and Gamma Rhythms Subserve Feedback and Feedforward Influences among Human Visual Cortical Areas. Neuron, 82(2), 384-397. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.018.
AbstractPrimate visual cortex is hierarchically organized. Bottom-up and top-down influences are exerted through distinct frequency channels, as was recently revealed in macaques by correlating inter-areal influences with laminar anatomical projection patterns. Because this anatomical data cannot be obtained in human subjects, we selected seven homologous macaque and human visual areas, and we correlated the macaque laminar projection patterns to human inter-areal directed influences as measured with magnetoencephalography. We show that influences along feedforward projections predominate in the gamma band, whereas influences along feedback projections predominate in the alpha-beta band. Rhythmic inter-areal influences constrain a functional hierarchy of the seven homologous human visual areas that is in close agreement with the respective macaque anatomical hierarchy. Rhythmic influences allow an extension of the hierarchy to 26 human visual areas including uniquely human brain areas. Hierarchical levels of ventral- and dorsal-stream visual areas are differentially affected by inter-areal influences in the alpha-beta band.
De Nooijer, J. A., & Willems, R. M. (2016). What can we learn about cognition from studying handedness? Insights from cognitive neuroscience. In F. Loffing, N. Hagemann, B. Strauss, & C. MacMahon (
Eds.), Laterality in sports: Theories and applications (pp. 135-153). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
AbstractCan studying left- and right-handers inform us about cognition? In this chapter, we give an overview of research showing that studying left- and right-handers is informative for understanding the way the brain is organized (i.e., lateralized), as there appear to be differences between left- and right-handers in this respect, but also on the behavioral level handedness studies can provide new insights. According to theories of embodied cognition, our body can influence cognition. Given that left- and right-handers use their bodies differently, this might reflect their performance on an array of cognitive tasks. Indeed, handedness can have an influence on, for instance, what side of space we judge as more positive, the way we gesture, how we remember things, and how we learn new words. Laterality research can, therefore, provide valuable information as to how we act and why
Peeters, D. (2016). Processing consequences of onomatopoeic iconicity in spoken language comprehension. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 1632-1647). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
AbstractIconicity is a fundamental feature of human language. However its processing consequences at the behavioral and neural level in spoken word comprehension are not well understood. The current paper presents the behavioral and electrophysiological outcome of an auditory lexical decision task in which native speakers of Dutch listened to onomatopoeic words and matched control words while their electroencephalogram was recorded. Behaviorally, onomatopoeic words were processed as quickly and accurately as words with an arbitrary mapping between form and meaning. Event-related potentials time-locked to word onset revealed a significant decrease in negative amplitude in the N2 and N400 components and a late positivity for onomatopoeic words in comparison to the control words. These findings advance our understanding of the temporal dynamics of iconic form-meaning mapping in spoken word comprehension and suggest interplay between the neural representations of real-world sounds and spoken words.
Poletiek, F. H., Fitz, H., & Bocanegra, B. R. (2016). What baboons can (not) tell us about natural language grammars. Cognition, 151, 108-112. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.04.016.
AbstractRey et al. (2012) present data from a study with baboons that they interpret in support of the idea that center-embedded structures in human language have their origin in low level memory mechanisms and associative learning. Critically, the authors claim that the baboons showed a behavioral preference that is consistent with center-embedded sequences over other types of sequences. We argue that the baboons’ response patterns suggest that two mechanisms are involved: first, they can be trained to associate a particular response with a particular stimulus, and, second, when faced with two conditioned stimuli in a row, they respond to the most recent one first, copying behavior they had been rewarded for during training. Although Rey et al. (2012) ‘experiment shows that the baboons’ behavior is driven by low level mechanisms, it is not clear how the animal behavior reported, bears on the phenomenon of Center Embedded structures in human syntax. Hence, (1) natural language syntax may indeed have been shaped by low level mechanisms, and (2) the baboons’ behavior is driven by low level stimulus response learning, as Rey et al. propose. But is the second evidence for the first? We will discuss in what ways this study can and cannot give evidential value for explaining the origin of Center Embedded recursion in human grammar. More generally, their study provokes an interesting reflection on the use of animal studies in order to understand features of the human linguistic system.
Schoot, L., Heyselaar, E., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2016). Does syntactic alignment effectively influence how speakers are perceived by their conversation partner. PLoS One, 11(4): e015352. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153521.
AbstractThe way we talk can influence how we are perceived by others. Whereas previous studies have started to explore the influence of social goals on syntactic alignment, in the current study, we additionally investigated whether syntactic alignment effectively influences conversation partners’ perception of the speaker. To this end, we developed a novel paradigm in which we can measure the effect of social goals on the strength of syntactic alignment for one participant (primed participant), while simultaneously obtaining usable social opinions about them from their conversation partner (the evaluator). In Study 1, participants’ desire to be rated favorably by their partner was manipulated by assigning pairs to a Control (i.e., primed participants did not know they were being evaluated) or Evaluation context (i.e., primed participants knew they were being evaluated). Surprisingly, results showed no significant difference in the strength with which primed participants aligned their syntactic choices with their partners’ choices. In a follow-up study, we used a Directed Evaluation context (i.e., primed participants knew they were being evaluated and were explicitly instructed to make a positive impression). However, again, there was no evidence supporting the hypothesis that participants’ desire to impress their partner influences syntactic alignment. With respect to the influence of syntactic alignment on perceived likeability by the evaluator, a negative relationship was reported in Study 1: the more primed participants aligned their syntactic choices with their partner, the more that partner decreased their likeability rating after the experiment. However, this effect was not replicated in the Directed Evaluation context of Study 2. In other words, our results do not support the conclusion that speakers’ desire to be liked affects how much they align their syntactic choices with their partner, nor is there convincing evidence that there is a reliable relationship between syntactic alignment and perceived likeability.
Additional informationData availability
Schoot, L., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2016). What can we learn from a two-brain approach to verbal interaction? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 68, 454-459. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.06.009.
AbstractVerbal interaction is one of the most frequent social interactions humans encounter on a daily basis. In the current paper, we zoom in on what the multi-brain approach has contributed, and can contribute in the future, to our understanding of the neural mechanisms supporting verbal interaction. Indeed, since verbal interaction can only exist between individuals, it seems intuitive to focus analyses on inter-individual neural markers, i.e. between-brain neural coupling. To date, however, there is a severe lack of theoretically-driven, testable hypotheses about what between-brain neural coupling actually reflects. In this paper, we develop a testable hypothesis in which between-pair variation in between-brain neural coupling is of key importance. Based on theoretical frameworks and empirical data, we argue that the level of between-brain neural coupling reflects speaker-listener alignment at different levels of linguistic and extra-linguistic representation. We discuss the possibility that between-brain neural coupling could inform us about the highest level of inter-speaker alignment: mutual understanding
Segaert, K., Wheeldon, L., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Unifying structural priming effects on syntactic choices and timing of sentence generation. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 59-80. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.03.011.
AbstractWe investigated whether structural priming of production latencies is sensitive to the same factors known to influence persistence of structural choices: structure preference, cumulativity and verb repetition. In two experiments, we found structural persistence only for passives (inverse preference effect) while priming effects on latencies were stronger for the actives (positive preference effect). We found structural persistence for passives to be influenced by immediate primes and long lasting cumulativity (all preceding primes) (Experiment 1), and to be boosted by verb repetition (Experiment 2). In latencies we found effects for actives were sensitive to long lasting cumulativity (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, in latencies we found priming for actives overall, while for passives the priming effects emerged as the cumulative exposure increased but only when also aided by verb repetition. These findings are consistent with the Two-stage Competition model, an integrated model of structural priming effects for sentence choice and latency
Shitova, N., Roelofs, A., Schriefers, H., Bastiaansen, M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2016). Using Brain Potentials to Functionally Localise Stroop-Like Effects in Colour and Picture Naming: Perceptual Encoding versus Word Planning. PLoS One, 11(9): e0161052. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161052.
AbstractThe colour-word Stroop task and the picture-word interference task (PWI) have been used extensively to study the functional processes underlying spoken word production. One of the consistent behavioural effects in both tasks is the Stroop-like effect: The reaction time (RT) is longer on incongruent trials than on congruent trials. The effect in the Stroop task is usually linked to word planning, whereas the effect in the PWI task is associated with either word planning or perceptual encoding. To adjudicate between the word planning and perceptual encoding accounts of the effect in PWI, we conducted an EEG experiment consisting of three tasks: a standard colour-word Stroop task (three colours), a standard PWI task (39 pictures), and a Stroop-like version of the PWI task (three pictures). Participants overtly named the colours and pictures while their EEG was recorded. A Stroop-like effect in RTs was observed in all three tasks. ERPs at centro-parietal sensors started to deflect negatively for incongruent relative to congruent stimuli around 350 ms after stimulus onset for the Stroop, Stroop-like PWI, and the Standard PWI tasks: an N400 effect. No early differences were found in the PWI tasks. The onset of the Stroop-like effect at about 350 ms in all three tasks links the effect to word planning rather than perceptual encoding, which has been estimated in the literature to be finished around 200–250 ms after stimulus onset. We conclude that the Stroop-like effect arises during word planning in both Stroop and PWI.
Additional informationData Availability http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161052#sec014
Silva, S., Petersson, K. M., & Castro, S. (2016). Rhythm in the brain: Is music special? In D. Da Silva Marques, & J. Avila-Toscano (
Eds.), Neuroscience to neuropsychology: The study of the human brain (pp. 29-54). Barranquilla, Colombia: Ediciones CUR.
Silva, S., Reis, A., Casaca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Faísca, L. (2016). When the eyes no longer lead: Familiarity and length effects eye-voice span. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1720. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01720.
AbstractDuring oral reading, the eyes tend to be ahead of the voice (eye-voice span, EVS). It has been hypothesized that the extent to which this happens depends on the automaticity of reading processes, namely on the speed of print-to-sound conversion. We tested whether EVS is affected by another automaticity component – immunity from interference. To that end, we manipulated word familiarity (high-frequency, lowfrequency, and pseudowords, PW) and word length as proxies of immunity from interference, and we used linear mixed effects models to measure the effects of both variables on the time interval at which readers do parallel processing by gazing at word N C 1 while not having articulated word N yet (offset EVS). Parallel processing was enhanced by automaticity, as shown by familiarity length interactions on offset EVS, and it was impeded by lack of automaticity, as shown by the transformation of offset EVS into voice-eye span (voice ahead of the offset of the eyes) in PWs. The relation between parallel processing and automaticity was strengthened by the fact that offset EVS predicted reading velocity. Our findings contribute to understand how the offset EVS, an index that is obtained in oral reading, may tap into different components of automaticity that underlie reading ability, oral or silent. In addition, we compared the duration of the offset EVS with the average reference duration of stages in word production, and we saw that the offset EVS may accommodate for more than the articulatory programming stage of word N.
Silva, S., Faísca, L., Araújo, S., Casaca, L., Carvalho, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2016). Too little or too much? Parafoveal preview benefits and parafoveal load costs in dyslexic adults. Annals of Dyslexia, 66(2), 187-201. doi:10.1007/s11881-015-0113-z.
AbstractTwo different forms of parafoveal dysfunction have been hypothesized as core deficits of dyslexic individuals: reduced parafoveal preview benefits (“too little parafovea”) and increased costs of parafoveal load (“too much parafovea”). We tested both hypotheses in a single eye-tracking experiment using a modified serial rapid automatized naming (RAN) task. Comparisons between dyslexic and non-dyslexic adults showed reduced parafoveal preview benefits in dyslexics, without increased costs of parafoveal load. Reduced parafoveal preview benefits were observed in a naming task, but not in a silent letter-finding task, indicating that the parafoveal dysfunction may be consequent to the overload with extracting phonological information from orthographic input. Our results suggest that dyslexics’ parafoveal dysfunction is not based on strict visuo-attentional factors, but nevertheless they stress the importance of extra-phonological processing. Furthermore, evidence of reduced parafoveal preview benefits in dyslexia may help understand why serial RAN is an important reading predictor in adulthood
Takashima, A., Hulzink, I., Wagensveld, B., & Verhoeven, L. (2016). Emergence of representations through repeated training on pronouncing novel letter combinations leads to efficient reading. Neuropsychologia, 89, 14-30. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.05.014.
AbstractPrinted text can be decoded by utilizing different processing routes depending on the familiarity of the script. A predominant use of word-level decoding strategies can be expected in the case of a familiar script, and an almost exclusive use of letter-level decoding strategies for unfamiliar scripts. Behavioural studies have revealed that frequently occurring words are read more efficiently, suggesting that these words are read in a more holistic way at the word-level, than infrequent and unfamiliar words. To test whether repeated exposure to specific letter combinations leads to holistic reading, we monitored both behavioural and neural responses during novel script decoding and examined changes related to repeated exposure. We trained a group of Dutch university students to decode pseudowords written in an unfamiliar script, i.e., Korean Hangul characters. We compared behavioural and neural responses to pronouncing trained versus untrained two-character pseudowords (equivalent to two-syllable pseudowords). We tested once shortly after the initial training and again after a four days' delay that included another training session. We found that trained pseudowords were pronounced faster and more accurately than novel combinations of radicals (equivalent to letters). Imaging data revealed that pronunciation of trained pseudowords engaged the posterior temporo-parietal region, and engagement of this network was predictive of reading efficiency a month later. The results imply that repeated exposure to specific combinations of graphemes can lead to emergence of holistic representations that result in efficient reading. Furthermore, inter-individual differences revealed that good learners retained efficiency more than bad learners one month later
Takashima, A., Van de Ven, F., Kroes, M. C. W., & Fernández, G. (2016). Retrieved emotional context influences hippocampal involvement during recognition of neutral memories. NeuroImage, 143, 280-292. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.08.069.
AbstractIt is well documented that emotionally arousing experiences are better remembered than mundane events. This is thought to occur through hippocampus-amygdala crosstalk during encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. Here we investigated whether emotional events (context) also cause a memory benefit for simultaneously encoded non-arousing contents and whether this effect persists after a delay via recruitment of a similar hippocampus-amygdala network. Participants studied neutral pictures (content) encoded together with either an arousing or a neutral sound (that served as context) in two study sessions three days apart. Memory was tested in a functional magnetic resonance scanner directly after the second study session. Pictures recognised with high confidence were more often thought to have been associated with an arousing than with a neutral context, irrespective of the veridical source memory. If the retrieved context was arousing, an area in the hippocampus adjacent to the amygdala exhibited heightened activation and this area increased functional connectivity with the parahippocampal gyrus, an area known to process pictures of scenes. These findings suggest that memories can be shaped by the retrieval act. Memory structures may be recruited to a higher degree when an arousing context is retrieved, and this may give rise to confident judgments of recognition for neutral pictures even after a delay
Thalmeier, D., Uhlmann, M., Kappen, H. J., & Memmeshiemer, R.-M. (2016). Learning Universal Computations with Spikes. PLoS Computational Biology, 12(6): e1004895. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004895.
AbstractProviding the neurobiological basis of information processing in higher animals, spiking neural networks must be able to learn a variety of complicated computations, including the generation of appropriate, possibly delayed reactions to inputs and the self-sustained generation of complex activity patterns, e.g. for locomotion. Many such computations require previous building of intrinsic world models. Here we show how spiking neural networks may solve these different tasks. Firstly, we derive constraints under which classes of spiking neural networks lend themselves to substrates of powerful general purpose computing. The networks contain dendritic or synaptic nonlinearities and have a constrained connectivity. We then combine such networks with learning rules for outputs or recurrent connections. We show that this allows to learn even difficult benchmark tasks such as the self-sustained generation of desired low-dimensional chaotic dynamics or memory-dependent computations. Furthermore, we show how spiking networks can build models of external world systems and use the acquired knowledge to control them.
Tromp, J., Hagoort, P., & Meyer, A. S. (2016). Pupillometry reveals increased pupil size during indirect request comprehension. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 1093-1108. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1065282.
AbstractFluctuations in pupil size have been shown to reflect variations in processing demands during lexical and syntactic processing in language comprehension. An issue that has not received attention is whether pupil size also varies due to pragmatic manipulations. In two pupillometry experiments, we investigated whether pupil diameter was sensitive to increased processing demands as a result of comprehending an indirect request versus a direct statement. Adult participants were presented with 120 picture–sentence combinations that could be interpreted either as an indirect request (a picture of a window with the sentence “it's very hot here”) or as a statement (a picture of a window with the sentence “it's very nice here”). Based on the hypothesis that understanding indirect utterances requires additional inferences to be made on the part of the listener, we predicted a larger pupil diameter for indirect requests than statements. The results of both experiments are consistent with this expectation. We suggest that the increase in pupil size reflects additional processing demands for the comprehension of indirect requests as compared to statements. This research demonstrates the usefulness of pupillometry as a tool for experimental research in pragmatics
Van den Broek, G., Takashima, A., Wiklund-Hörnqvist, C., Karlsson-Wirebring, C., Segers, E., Verhoeven, L., & Nyberg, L. (2016). Neurocognitive mechanisms of the “testing effect”: A review. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 5(2), 52-66. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2016.05.001.
AbstractMemory retrieval is an active process that can alter the content and accessibility of stored memories. Of potential relevance for educational practice are findings that memory retrieval fosters better retention than mere studying. This so-called testing effect has been demonstrated for different materials and populations, but there is limited consensus on the neurocognitive mechanisms involved. In this review, we relate cognitive accounts of the testing effect to findings from recent brain-imaging studies to identify neurocognitive factors that could explain the testing effect. Results indicate that testing facilitates later performance through several processes, including effects on semantic memory representations, the selective strengthening of relevant associations and inhibition of irrelevant associations, as well as potentiation of subsequent learning.
Van der Ven, F., Takashima, A., Segers, E., Fernández, G., & Verhoeven, L. (2016). Non-symbolic and symbolic notation in simple arithmetic differentially involve intraparietal sulcus and angular gyrus activity. Brain Research, 1643, 91-102.
AbstractAddition problems can be solved by mentally manipulating quantities for which the bilateral intraparietal sulcus (IPS) is likely recruited, or by retrieving the answer directly from fact memory in which the left angular gyrus (AG) and perisylvian areas may play a role. Mental addition is usually studied with problems presented in the Arabic notation (4+2), and less so with number words (four+two) or dots (:: +·.). In the present study, we investigated how the notation of numbers influences processing during simple mental arithmetic. Twenty-five highly educated participants performed simple arithmetic while their brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging. To reveal the effect of number notation, arithmetic problems were presented in a non-symbolic (Dots) or symbolic (Arabic; Words) notation. Furthermore, we asked whether IPS processing during mental arithmetic is magnitude specific or of a more general, visuospatial nature. To this end, we included perception and manipulation of non-magnitude formats (Colors; unfamiliar Japanese Characters). Increased IPS activity was observed, suggesting magnitude calculations during addition of non-symbolic numbers. In contrast, there was greater activity in the AG and perisylvian areas for symbolic compared to non-symbolic addition, suggesting increased verbal fact retrieval. Furthermore, IPS activity was not specific to processing of numerical magnitude but also present for non-magnitude stimuli that required mental visuospatial processing (Color-mixing; Character-memory measured by a delayed match-to-sample task). Together, our data suggest that simple non-symbolic sums are calculated using visual imagery, whereas answers for simple symbolic sums are retrieved from verbal memory.
Van den Hoven, E., Hartung, F., Burke, M., & Willems, R. M. (2016). Individual differences in sensitivity to style during literary reading: Insights from eye-tracking. Collabra, 2(1): 25, pp. 1-16. doi:10.1525/collabra.39.
AbstractStyle is an important aspect of literature, and stylistic deviations are sometimes labeled foregrounded, since their manner of expression deviates from the stylistic default. Russian Formalists have claimed that foregrounding increases processing demands and therefore causes slower reading – an effect called retardation. We tested this claim experimentally by having participants read short literary stories while measuring their eye movements. Our results confirm that readers indeed read slower and make more regressions towards foregrounded passages as compared to passages that are not foregrounded. A closer look, however, reveals significant individual differences in sensitivity to foregrounding. Some readers in fact do not slow down at all when reading foregrounded passages. The slowing down effect for literariness was related to a slowing down effect for high perplexity (unexpected) words: those readers who slowed down more during literary passages also slowed down more during high perplexity words, even though no correlation between literariness and perplexity existed in the stories. We conclude that individual differences play a major role in processing of literary texts and argue for accounts of literary reading that focus on the interplay between reader and text.
Vanlangendonck, F., Willems, R. M., Menenti, L., & Hagoort, P. (2016). An early influence of common ground during speech planning. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(6), 741-750. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1148747.
AbstractIn order to communicate successfully, speakers have to take into account which information they share with their addressee, i.e. common ground. In the current experiment we investigated how and when common ground affects speech planning by tracking speakers’ eye movements while they played a referential communication game. We found evidence that common ground exerts an early, but incomplete effect on speech planning. In addition, we did not find longer planning times when speakers had to take common ground into account, suggesting that taking common ground into account is not necessarily an effortful process. Common ground information thus appears to act as a partial constraint on language production that is integrated flexibly and efficiently in the speech planning process.
Weber, K., Christiansen, M., Petersson, K. M., Indefrey, P., & Hagoort, P. (2016). fMRI syntactic and lexical repetition effects reveal the initial stages of learning a new language. The Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 6872-6880. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3180-15.2016.
AbstractWhen learning a new language, we build brain networks to process and represent the acquired words and syntax and integrate these with existing language representations. It is an open question whether the same or different neural mechanisms are involved in learning and processing a novel language compared to the native language(s). Here we investigated the neural repetition effects of repeating known and novel word orders while human subjects were in the early stages of learning a new language. Combining a miniature language with a syntactic priming paradigm, we examined the neural correlates of language learning online using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and posterior temporal cortex the repetition of novel syntactic structures led to repetition enhancement, while repetition of known structures resulted in repetition suppression. Additional verb repetition led to an increase in the syntactic repetition enhancement effect in language-related brain regions. Similarly the repetition of verbs led to repetition enhancement effects in areas related to lexical and semantic processing, an effect that continued to increase in a subset of these regions. Repetition enhancement might reflect a mechanism to build and strengthen a neural network to process novel syntactic structures and lexical items. By contrast, the observed repetition suppression points to overlapping neural mechanisms for native and new language constructions when these have sufficient structural similarities.
Weber, K., Luther, L., Indefrey, P., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Overlap and differences in brain networks underlying the processing of complex sentence structures in second language users compared to native speakers. Brain Connectivity, 6(4), 345-355. doi:10.1089/brain.2015.0383.
AbstractWhen we learn a second language later in life do we integrate it with the established neural networks in place for the first language or is at least a partially new network recruited? While there is evidence that simple grammatical structures in a second language share a system with the native language, the story becomes more multifaceted for complex sentence structures. In this study we investigated the underlying brain networks in native speakers compared to proficient second language users while processing complex sentences. As hypothesized, complex structures were processed by the same large-scale inferior frontal and middle temporal language networks of the brain in the second language, as seen in native speakers. These effects were seen both in activations as well as task-related connectivity patterns. Furthermore, the second language users showed increased task-related connectivity from inferior frontal to inferior parietal regions of the brain, regions related to attention and cognitive control, suggesting less automatic processing for these structures in a second language.
Weber, K., Lau, E., Stillerman, B., & Kuperberg, G. (2016). The Yin and the Yang of Prediction: An fMRI Study of Semantic Predictive Processing. PLoS One, 11(3): 0148637. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148637.
AbstractProbabilistic prediction plays a crucial role in language comprehension. When predictions are fulfilled, the resulting facilitation allows for fast, efficient processing of ambiguous, rapidly-unfolding input; when predictions are not fulfilled, the resulting error signal allows us to adapt to broader statistical changes in this input. We used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to examine the neuroanatomical networks engaged in semantic predictive processing and adaptation. We used a relatedness proportion semantic priming paradigm, in which we manipulated the probability of predictions while holding local semantic context constant. Under conditions of higher (versus lower) predictive validity, we replicate previous observations of reduced activity to semantically predictable words in the left anterior superior/middle temporal cortex, reflecting facilitated processing of targets that are consistent with prior semantic predictions. In addition, under conditions of higher (versus lower) predictive validity we observed significant differences in the effects of semantic relatedness within the left inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior portion of the left superior/middle temporal gyrus. We suggest that together these two regions mediated the suppression of unfulfilled semantic predictions and lexico-semantic processing of unrelated targets that were inconsistent with these predictions. Moreover, under conditions of higher (versus lower) predictive validity, a functional connectivity analysis showed that the left inferior frontal and left posterior superior/middle temporal gyrus were more tightly interconnected with one another, as well as with the left anterior cingulate cortex. The left anterior cingulate cortex was, in turn, more tightly connected to superior lateral frontal cortices and subcortical regions—a network that mediates rapid learning and adaptation and that may have played a role in switching to a more predictive mode of processing in response to the statistical structure of the wider environmental context. Together, these findings highlight close links between the networks mediating semantic prediction, executive function and learning, giving new insights into how our brains are able to flexibly adapt to our environment.
Additional informationData availability
Willems, R. M., & Jacobs, A. M. (2016). Caring about Dostoyevsky: The untapped potential of studying literature. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(4), 243-245. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2015.12.009.
AbstractShould cognitive scientists and neuroscientists care about Dostoyevsky? Engaging with fiction is a natural and rich behavior, providing a unique window onto the mind and brain, particularly for mental simulation, emotion, empathy, and immersion. With advances in analysis techniques, it is time that cognitive scientists and neuroscientists embrace literature and fiction.
Willems, R. M., Frank, S. L., Nijhoff, A. D., Hagoort, P., & Van den Bosch, A. (2016). Prediction during natural language comprehension. Cerebral Cortex, 26(6), 2506-2516. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv075.
AbstractThe notion of prediction is studied in cognitive neuroscience with increasing intensity. We investigated the neural basis of 2 distinct aspects of word prediction, derived from information theory, during story comprehension. We assessed the effect of entropy of next-word probability distributions as well as surprisal. A computational model determined entropy and surprisal for each word in 3 literary stories. Twenty-four healthy participants listened to the same 3 stories while their brain activation was measured using fMRI. Reversed speech fragments were presented as a control condition. Brain areas sensitive to entropy were left ventral premotor cortex, left middle frontal gyrus, right inferior frontal gyrus, left inferior parietal lobule, and left supplementary motor area. Areas sensitive to surprisal were left inferior temporal sulcus (“visual word form area”), bilateral superior temporal gyrus, right amygdala, bilateral anterior temporal poles, and right inferior frontal sulcus. We conclude that prediction during language comprehension can occur at several levels of processing, including at the level of word form. Our study exemplifies the power of combining computational linguistics with cognitive neuroscience, and additionally underlines the feasibility of studying continuous spoken language materials with fMRI.
Additional informationSupplementary Material
Zimmermann, M., Verhagen, L., De Lange, F., & Toni, I. (2016). The extrastriate body area computes desired goal states during action planning. eNeuro, 3(2): ENEURO.0020-16.2016. doi:10.1523/ENEURO.0020-16.2016.
AbstractHow do object perception and action interact at a neural level? Here we test the hypothesis that perceptual features, processed by the ventral visuoperceptual stream, are used as priors by the dorsal visuomotor stream to specify goal-directed grasping actions. We present three main findings, which were obtained by combining time-resolved transcranial magnetic stimulation and kinematic tracking of grasp-and-rotate object manipulations, in a group of healthy human participants (N 22). First, the extrastriate body area (EBA), in the ventral stream, provides an initial structure to motor plans, based on current and desired states of a grasped object and of the grasping hand. Second, the contributions of EBA are earlier in time than those of a caudal intraparietal region known to specify the action plan. Third, the contributions of EBA are particularly important when desired and current object configurations differ, and multiple courses of actions are possible. These findings specify the temporal and functional characteristics for a mechanism that integrates perceptual processing with motor planning.
Van Berkum, J. J. A., Brown, C. M., & Hagoort, P. (1999). Early referential context effects in sentence processing: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. Journal of Memory and Language, 41(2), 147-182. doi:10.1006/jmla.1999.2641.
AbstractAn event-related brain potentials experiment was carried out to examine the interplay of referential and structural factors during sentence processing in discourse. Subjects read (Dutch) sentences beginning like “David told the girl that … ” in short story contexts that had introduced either one or two referents for a critical singular noun phrase (“the girl”). The waveforms showed that within 280 ms after onset of the critical noun the reader had already determined whether the noun phrase had a unique referent in earlier discourse. Furthermore, this referential information was immediately used in parsing the rest of the sentence, which was briefly ambiguous between a complement clause (“ … that there would be some visitors”) and a relative clause (“ … that had been on the phone to hang up”). A consistent pattern of P600/SPS effects elicited by various subsequent disambiguations revealed that a two-referent discourse context had led the parser to initially pursue the relative-clause alternative to a larger extent than a one-referent context. Together, the results suggest that during the processing of sentences in discourse, structural and referential sources of information interact on a word-by-word basis.