Publications

Displaying 1 - 76 of 76
  • Aziz-Zadeh, L., Casasanto, D., Feldman, J., Saxe, R., & Talmy, L. (2008). Discovering the conceptual primitives. In B. C. Love, K. McRae, & V. M. Sloutsky (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 27-28). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Baggio, G., Van Lambalgen, M., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Computing and recomputing discourse models: An ERP study. Journal of Memory and Language, 59, 36-53. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2008.02.005.

    Abstract

    While syntactic reanalysis has been extensively investigated in psycholinguistics, comparatively little is known about reanalysis in the semantic domain. We used event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to keep track of semantic processes involved in understanding short narratives such as ‘The girl was writing a letter when her friend spilled coffee on the paper’. We hypothesize that these sentences are interpreted in two steps: (1) when the progressive clause is processed, a discourse model is computed in which the goal state (a complete letter) is predicted to hold; (2) when the subordinate clause is processed, the initial representation is recomputed to the effect that, in the final discourse structure, the goal state is not satisfied. Critical sentences evoked larger sustained anterior negativities (SANs) compared to controls, starting around 400 ms following the onset of the sentence-final word, and lasting for about 400 ms. The amplitude of the SAN was correlated with the frequency with which participants, in an offline probe-selection task, responded that the goal state was not attained. Our results raise the possibility that the brain supports some form of non-monotonic recomputation to integrate information which invalidates previously held assumptions.
  • Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Oostenveld, R., Jensen, O., & Hagoort, P. (2008). I see what you mean: Theta power increases are involved in the retrieval of lexical semantic information. Brain and Language, 106(1), 15-28. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2007.10.006.

    Abstract

    An influential hypothesis regarding the neural basis of the mental lexicon is that semantic representations are neurally implemented as distributed networks carrying sensory, motor and/or more abstract functional information. This work investigates whether the semantic properties of words partly determine the topography of such networks. Subjects performed a visual lexical decision task while their EEG was recorded. We compared the EEG responses to nouns with either visual semantic properties (VIS, referring to colors and shapes) or with auditory semantic properties (AUD, referring to sounds). A time–frequency analysis of the EEG revealed power increases in the theta (4–7 Hz) and lower-beta (13–18 Hz) frequency bands, and an early power increase and subsequent decrease for the alpha (8–12 Hz) band. In the theta band we observed a double dissociation: temporal electrodes showed larger theta power increases in the AUD condition, while occipital leads showed larger theta responses in the VIS condition. The results support the notion that semantic representations are stored in functional networks with a topography that reflects the semantic properties of the stored items, and provide further evidence that oscillatory brain dynamics in the theta frequency range are functionally related to the retrieval of lexical semantic information.
  • De Bree, E., Van Alphen, P. M., Fikkert, P., & Wijnen, F. (2008). Metrical stress in comprehension and production of Dutch children at risk of dyslexia. In H. Chan, H. Jacob, & E. Kapia (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 60-71). Somerville, Mass: Cascadilla Press.

    Abstract

    The present study compared the role of metrical stress in comprehension and production of three-year-old children with a familial risk of dyslexia with that of normally developing children to further explore the phonological deficit in dyslexia. A visual fixation task with stress (mis-)matches in bisyllabic words, as well as a non-word repetition task with bisyllabic targets were presented to the control and at-risk children. Results show that the at-risk group was less sensitive to stress mismatches in word recognition than the control group. Correct production of metrical stress patterns did not differ significantly between the groups, but the percentages of phonemes produced correctly were lower for the at-risk than the control group. These findings suggest that processing of metrical stress is not impaired in at-risk children, but that this group cannot exploit metrical stress for speech in word recognition. This study demonstrates the importance of including suprasegmental skills in dyslexia research.
  • Casasanto, D. (2008). Similarity and proximity: When does close in space mean close in mind? Memory & Cognition, 36(6), 1047-1056. doi:10.3758/MC.36.6.1047.

    Abstract

    People often describe things that are similar as close and things that are dissimilar as far apart. Does the way people talk about similarity reveal something fundamental about the way they conceptualize it? Three experiments tested the relationship between similarity and spatial proximity that is encoded in metaphors in language. Similarity ratings for pairs of words or pictures varied as a function of how far apart the stimuli appeared on the computer screen, but the influence of distance on similarity differed depending on the type of judgments the participants made. Stimuli presented closer together were rated more similar during conceptual judgments of abstract entities or unseen object properties but were rated less similar during perceptual judgments of visual appearance. These contrasting results underscore the importance of testing predictions based on linguistic metaphors experimentally and suggest that our sense of similarity arises from our ability to combine available perceptual information with stored knowledge of experiential regularities.
  • Casasanto, D. (2008). Who's afraid of the big bad Whorf? Crosslinguistic differences in temporal language and thought. In P. Indefrey, & M. Gullberg (Eds.), Time to speak: Cognitive and neural prerequisites for time in language (pp. 63-79). Oxford: Wiley.

    Abstract

    The idea that language shapes the way we think, often associated with Benjamin Whorf, has long been decried as not only wrong but also fundamentally wrong-headed. Yet, experimental evidence has reopened debate about the extent to which language influences nonlinguistic cognition, particularly in the domain of time. In this article, I will first analyze an influential argument against the Whorfian hypothesis and show that its anti-Whorfian conclusion is in part an artifact of conflating two distinct questions: Do we think in language? and Does language shape thought? Next, I will discuss crosslinguistic differences in spatial metaphors for time and describe experiments that demonstrate corresponding differences in nonlinguistic mental representations. Finally, I will sketch a simple learning mechanism by which some linguistic relativity effects appear to arise. Although people may not think in language, speakers of different languages develop distinctive conceptual repertoires as a consequence of ordinary and presumably universal neural and cognitive processes.
  • Casasanto, D. (2008). Who's afraid of the big bad Whorf? Crosslinguistic differences in temporal language and thought. Language Learning, 58(suppl. 1), 63-79. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2008.00462.x.

    Abstract

    The idea that language shapes the way we think, often associated with Benjamin Whorf, has long been decried as not only wrong but also fundamentally wrong-headed. Yet, experimental evidence has reopened debate about the extent to which language influences nonlinguistic cognition, particularly in the domain of time. In this article, I will first analyze an influential argument against the Whorfian hypothesis and show that its anti-Whorfian conclusion is in part an artifact of conflating two distinct questions: Do we think in language? and Does language shape thought? Next, I will discuss crosslinguistic differences in spatial metaphors for time and describe experiments that demonstrate corresponding differences in nonlinguistic mental representations. Finally, I will sketch a simple learning mechanism by which some linguistic relativity effects appear to arise. Although people may not think in language, speakers of different languages develop distinctive conceptual repertoires as a consequence of ordinary and presumably universal neural and cognitive processes.
  • Casasanto, D., & Boroditsky, L. (2008). Time in the mind: Using space to think about time. Cognition, 106, 579-573. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2007.03.004.

    Abstract

    How do we construct abstract ideas like justice, mathematics, or time-travel? In this paper we investigate whether mental representations that result from physical experience underlie people’s more abstract mental representations, using the domains of space and time as a testbed. People often talk about time using spatial language (e.g., a long vacation, a short concert). Do people also think about time using spatial representations, even when they are not using language? Results of six psychophysical experiments revealed that people are unable to ignore irrelevant spatial information when making judgments about duration, but not the converse. This pattern, which is predicted by the asymmetry between space and time in linguistic metaphors, was demonstrated here in tasks that do not involve any linguistic stimuli or responses. These findings provide evidence that the metaphorical relationship between space and time observed in language also exists in our more basic representations of distance and duration. Results suggest that our mental representations of things we can never see or touch may be built, in part, out of representations of physical experiences in perception and motor action.
  • Dijkstra, K., & Casasanto, D. (2008). Autobiographical memory and motor action [Abstract]. In B. C. Love, K. McRae, & V. M. Sloutsky (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1549). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Retrieval of autobiographical memories is facilitated by activation of perceptuo-motor aspects of the experience, for example a congruent body position at the time of the experiencing and the time of retelling (Dijkstra, Kaschak, & Zwaan, 2007). The present study examined whether similar retrieval facilitation occurs when the direction of motor action is congruent with the valence of emotional memories. Consistent with evidence that people mentally represent emotions spatially (Casasanto, in press), participants moved marbles between vertically stacked boxes at a higher rate when the direction of movement was congruent with the valence of the memory they retrieved (e.g., upward for positive memories, downward for negative memories) than when direction and valence were incongruent (t(22)=4.24, p<.001). In addition, valence-congruent movements facilitated access to these memories, resulting in shorter retrieval times (t(22)=2.43, p<.05). Results demonstrate bidirectional influences between the emotional content of autobiographical memories and irrelevant motor actions.
  • Folia, V., Uddén, J., Forkstam, C., Ingvar, M., Hagoort, P., & Petersson, K. M. (2008). Implicit learning and dyslexia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1145, 132-150. doi:10.1196/annals.1416.012.

    Abstract

    Several studies have reported an association between dyslexia and implicit learning deficits. It has been suggested that the weakness in implicit learning observed in dyslexic individuals may be related to sequential processing and implicit sequence learning. In the present article, we review the current literature on implicit learning and dyslexia. We describe a novel, forced-choice structural "mere exposure" artificial grammar learning paradigm and characterize this paradigm in normal readers in relation to the standard grammaticality classification paradigm. We argue that preference classification is a more optimal measure of the outcome of implicit acquisition since in the preference version participants are kept completely unaware of the underlying generative mechanism, while in the grammaticality version, the subjects have, at least in principle, been informed about the existence of an underlying complex set of rules at the point of classification (but not during acquisition). On the basis of the "mere exposure effect," we tested the prediction that the development of preference will correlate with the grammaticality status of the classification items. In addition, we examined the effects of grammaticality (grammatical/nongrammatical) and associative chunk strength (ACS; high/low) on the classification tasks (preference/grammaticality). Using a balanced ACS design in which the factors of grammaticality (grammatical/nongrammatical) and ACS (high/low) were independently controlled in a 2 × 2 factorial design, we confirmed our predictions. We discuss the suitability of this task for further investigation of the implicit learning characteristics in dyslexia.
  • Forkstam, C., Elwér, A., Ingvar, M., & Petersson, K. M. (2008). Instruction effects in implicit artificial grammar learning: A preference for grammaticality. Brain Research, 1221, 80-92. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.05.005.

    Abstract

    Human implicit learning can be investigated with implicit artificial grammar learning, a paradigm that has been proposed as a simple model for aspects of natural language acquisition. In the present study we compared the typical yes–no grammaticality classification, with yes–no preference classification. In the case of preference instruction no reference to the underlying generative mechanism (i.e., grammar) is needed and the subjects are therefore completely uninformed about an underlying structure in the acquisition material. In experiment 1, subjects engaged in a short-term memory task using only grammatical strings without performance feedback for 5 days. As a result of the 5 acquisition days, classification performance was independent of instruction type and both the preference and the grammaticality group acquired relevant knowledge of the underlying generative mechanism to a similar degree. Changing the grammatical stings to random strings in the acquisition material (experiment 2) resulted in classification being driven by local substring familiarity. Contrasting repeated vs. non-repeated preference classification (experiment 3) showed that the effect of local substring familiarity decreases with repeated classification. This was not the case for repeated grammaticality classifications. We conclude that classification performance is largely independent of instruction type and that forced-choice preference classification is equivalent to the typical grammaticality classification.
  • Goldin-Meadow, S., Chee So, W., Ozyurek, A., & Mylander, C. (2008). The natural order of events: how speakers of different languages represent events nonverbally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 105(27), 9163-9168. doi:10.1073/pnas.0710060105.

    Abstract

    To test whether the language we speak influences our behavior even when we are not speaking, we asked speakers of four languages differing in their predominant word orders (English, Turkish, Spanish, and Chinese) to perform two nonverbal tasks: a communicative task (describing an event by using gesture without speech) and a noncommunicative task (reconstructing an event with pictures). We found that the word orders speakers used in their everyday speech did not influence their nonverbal behavior. Surprisingly, speakers of all four languages used the same order and on both nonverbal tasks. This order, actor–patient–act, is analogous to the subject–object–verb pattern found in many languages of the world and, importantly, in newly developing gestural languages. The findings provide evidence for a natural order that we impose on events when describing and reconstructing them nonverbally and exploit when constructing language anew.

    Additional information

    GoldinMeadow_2008_naturalSuppl.pdf
  • Hagoort, P., Ramsey, N. F., & Jensen, O. (2008). De gereedschapskist van de cognitieve neurowetenschap. In F. Wijnen, & F. Verstraten (Eds.), Het brein te kijk: Verkenning van de cognitieve neurowetenschap (pp. 41-75). Amsterdam: Harcourt Assessment.
  • Li, X., Hagoort, P., & Yang, Y. (2008). Event-related potential evidence on the influence of accentuation in spoken discourse comprehension in Chinese. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(5), 906-915. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20512.

    Abstract

    In an event-related potential experiment with Chinese discourses as material, we investigated how and when accentuation influences spoken discourse comprehension in relation to the different information states of the critical words. These words could either provide new or old information. It was shown that variation of accentuation influenced the amplitude of the N400, with a larger amplitude for accented than deaccented words. In addition, there was an interaction between accentuation and information state. The N400 amplitude difference between accented and deaccented new information was smaller than that between accented and deaccented old information. The results demonstrate that, during spoken discourse comprehension, listeners rapidly extract the semantic consequences of accentuation in relation to the previous discourse context. Moreover, our results show that the N400 amplitude can be larger for correct (new,accented words) than incorrect (new, deaccented words) information. This, we argue, proves that the N400 does not react to semantic anomaly per se, but rather to semantic integration load, which is higher for new information.
  • Hagoort, P. (2008). Mijn omweg naar de filosofie. Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte, 100(4), 303-310.
  • Hagoort, P. (2008). Should psychology ignore the language of the brain? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(2), 96-101. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00556.x.

    Abstract

    Claims that neuroscientific data do not contribute to our understanding of psychological functions have been made recently. Here I argue that these criticisms are solely based on an analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. However, fMRI is only one of the methods in the toolkit of cognitive neuroscience. I provide examples from research on event-related brain potentials (ERPs) that have contributed to our understanding of the cognitive architecture of human language functions. In addition, I provide evidence of (possible) contributions from fMRI measurements to our understanding of the functional architecture of language processing. Finally, I argue that a neurobiology of human language that integrates information about the necessary genetic and neural infrastructures will allow us to answer certain questions that are not answerable if all we have is evidence from behavior.
  • Hagoort, P. (2008). The fractionation of spoken language understanding by measuring electrical and magnetic brain signals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 363, 1055-1069. doi:10.1098/rstb.2007.2159.

    Abstract

    This paper focuses on what electrical and magnetic recordings of human brain activity reveal about spoken language understanding. Based on the high temporal resolution of these recordings, a fine-grained temporal profile of different aspects of spoken language comprehension can be obtained. Crucial aspects of speech comprehension are lexical access, selection and semantic integration. Results show that for words spoken in context, there is no ‘magic moment’ when lexical selection ends and semantic integration begins. Irrespective of whether words have early or late recognition points, semantic integration processing is initiated before words can be identified on the basis of the acoustic information alone. Moreover, for one particular event-related brain potential (ERP) component (the N400), equivalent impact of sentence- and discourse-semantic contexts is observed. This indicates that in comprehension, a spoken word is immediately evaluated relative to the widest interpretive domain available. In addition, this happens very quickly. Findings are discussed that show that often an unfolding word can be mapped onto discourse-level representations well before the end of the word. Overall, the time course of the ERP effects is compatible with the view that the different information types (lexical, syntactic, phonological, pragmatic) are processed in parallel and influence the interpretation process incrementally, that is as soon as the relevant pieces of information are available. This is referred to as the immediacy principle.
  • Hagoort, P. (2008). Über Broca, Gehirn und Bindung. In Jahrbuch 2008: Tätigkeitsberichte der Institute. München: Generalverwaltung der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Retrieved from http://www.mpg.de/306524/forschungsSchwerpunkt1?c=166434.

    Abstract

    Beim Sprechen und beim Sprachverstehen findet man die Wortbedeutung im Gedächtnis auf und kombiniert sie zu größeren Einheiten (Unifikation). Solche Unifikations-Operationen laufen auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen der Sprachverarbeitung ab. In diesem Beitrag wird ein Rahmen vorgeschlagen, in dem psycholinguistische Modelle mit neurobiologischer Sprachbetrachtung in Verbindung gebracht werden. Diesem Vorschlag zufolge spielt der linke inferiore frontale Gyrus (LIFG) eine bedeutende Rolle bei der Unifi kation
  • Janzen, G., Jansen, C., & Van Turennout, M. (2008). Memory consolidation of landmarks in good navigators. Hippocampus, 18, 40-47.

    Abstract

    Landmarks play an important role in successful navigation. To successfully find your way around an environment, navigationally relevant information needs to be stored and become available at later moments in time. Evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies shows that the human parahippocampal gyrus encodes the navigational relevance of landmarks. In the present event-related fMRI experiment, we investigated memory consolidation of navigationally relevant landmarks in the medial temporal lobe after route learning. Sixteen right-handed volunteers viewed two film sequences through a virtual museum with objects placed at locations relevant (decision points) or irrelevant (nondecision points) for navigation. To investigate consolidation effects, one film sequence was seen in the evening before scanning, the other one was seen the following morning, directly before scanning. Event-related fMRI data were acquired during an object recognition task. Participants decided whether they had seen the objects in the previously shown films. After scanning, participants answered standardized questions about their navigational skills, and were divided into groups of good and bad navigators, based on their scores. An effect of memory consolidation was obtained in the hippocampus: Objects that were seen the evening before scanning (remote objects) elicited more activity than objects seen directly before scanning (recent objects). This increase in activity in bilateral hippocampus for remote objects was observed in good navigators only. In addition, a spatial-specific effect of memory consolidation for navigationally relevant objects was observed in the parahippocampal gyrus. Remote decision point objects induced increased activity as compared with recent decision point objects, again in good navigators only. The results provide initial evidence for a connection between memory consolidation and navigational ability that can provide a basis for successful navigation.
  • Kho, K. H., Indefrey, P., Hagoort, P., Van Veelen, C. W. M., Van Rijen, P. C., & Ramsey, N. F. (2008). Unimpaired sentence comprehension after anterior temporal cortex resection. Neuropsychologia, 46(4), 1170-1178. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.10.014.

    Abstract

    Functional imaging studies have demonstrated involvement of the anterior temporal cortex in sentence comprehension. It is unclear, however, whether the anterior temporal cortex is essential for this function.We studied two aspects of sentence comprehension, namely syntactic and prosodic comprehension in temporal lobe epilepsy patients who were candidates for resection of the anterior temporal lobe. Methods: Temporal lobe epilepsy patients (n = 32) with normal (left) language dominance were tested on syntactic and prosodic comprehension before and after removal of the anterior temporal cortex. The prosodic comprehension test was also compared with performance of healthy control subjects (n = 47) before surgery. Results: Overall, temporal lobe epilepsy patients did not differ from healthy controls in syntactic and prosodic comprehension before surgery. They did perform less well on an affective prosody task. Post-operative testing revealed that syntactic and prosodic comprehension did not change after removal of the anterior temporal cortex. Discussion: The unchanged performance on syntactic and prosodic comprehension after removal of the anterior temporal cortex suggests that this area is not indispensable for sentence comprehension functions in temporal epilepsy patients. Potential implications for the postulated role of the anterior temporal lobe in the healthy brain are discussed.
  • Ladd, D. R., Dediu, D., & Kinsella, A. R. (2008). Reply to Bowles (2008). Biolinguistics, 2(2), 256-259.
  • De Lange, F. P., Koers, A., Kalkman, J. S., Bleijenberg, G., Hagoort, P., Van der Meer, J. W. M., & Toni, I. (2008). Increase in prefrontal cortical volume following cognitive behavioural therapy in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Brain, 131, 2172-2180. doi:10.1093/brain/awn140.

    Abstract

    Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disabling disorder, characterized by persistent or relapsing fatigue. Recent studies have detected a decrease in cortical grey matter volume in patients with CFS, but it is unclear whether this cerebral atrophy constitutes a cause or a consequence of the disease. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective behavioural intervention for CFS, which combines a rehabilitative approach of a graded increase in physical activity with a psychological approach that addresses thoughts and beliefs about CFS which may impair recovery. Here, we test the hypothesis that cerebral atrophy may be a reversible state that can ameliorate with successful CBT. We have quantified cerebral structural changes in 22 CFS patients that underwent CBT and 22 healthy control participants. At baseline, CFS patients had significantly lower grey matter volume than healthy control participants. CBT intervention led to a significant improvement in health status, physical activity and cognitive performance. Crucially, CFS patients showed a significant increase in grey matter volume, localized in the lateral prefrontal cortex. This change in cerebral volume was related to improvements in cognitive speed in the CFS patients. Our findings indicate that the cerebral atrophy associated with CFS is partially reversed after effective CBT. This result provides an example of macroscopic cortical plasticity in the adult human brain, demonstrating a surprisingly dynamic relation between behavioural state and cerebral anatomy. Furthermore, our results reveal a possible neurobiological substrate of psychotherapeutic treatment.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2008). The interplay between semantic and referential aspects of anaphoric noun phrase resolution: Evidence from ERPs. Brain & Language, 106, 119-131. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2008.05.001.

    Abstract

    In this event-related brain potential (ERP) study, we examined how semantic and referential aspects of anaphoric noun phrase resolution interact during discourse comprehension. We used a full factorial design that crossed referential ambiguity with semantic incoherence. Ambiguous anaphors elicited a sustained negative shift (Nref effect), and incoherent anaphors elicited an N400 effect. Simultaneously ambiguous and incoherent anaphors elicited an ERP pattern resembling that of the incoherent anaphors. These results suggest that semantic incoherence can preclude readers from engaging in anaphoric inferencing. Furthermore, approximately half of our participants unexpectedly showed common late positive effects to the three types of problematic anaphors. We relate the latter finding to recent accounts of what the P600 might reflect, and to the role of individual differences therein.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2008). The neurocognition of referential ambiguity in language comprehension. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2(4), 603-630. doi:10.1111/j.1749-818x.2008.00070.x.

    Abstract

    Referential ambiguity arises whenever readers or listeners are unable to select a unique referent for a linguistic expression out of multiple candidates. In the current article, we review a series of neurocognitive experiments from our laboratory that examine the neural correlates of referential ambiguity, and that employ the brain signature of referential ambiguity to derive functional properties of the language comprehension system. The results of our experiments converge to show that referential ambiguity resolution involves making an inference to evaluate the referential candidates. These inferences only take place when both referential candidates are, at least initially, equally plausible antecedents. Whether comprehenders make these anaphoric inferences is strongly context dependent and co-determined by characteristics of the reader. In addition, readers appear to disregard referential ambiguity when the competing candidates are each semantically incoherent, suggesting that, under certain circumstances, semantic analysis can proceed even when referential analysis has not yielded a unique antecedent. Finally, results from a functional neuroimaging study suggest that whereas the neural systems that deal with referential ambiguity partially overlap with those that deal with referential failure, they show an inverse coupling with the neural systems associated with semantic processing, possibly reflecting the relative contributions of semantic and episodic processing to re-establish semantic and referential coherence, respectively.
  • Otten, M., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2008). Discourse-based word anticipation during language processing: Prediction of priming? Discourse Processes, 45, 464-496. doi:10.1080/01638530802356463.

    Abstract

    Language is an intrinsically open-ended system. This fact has led to the widely shared assumption that readers and listeners do not predict upcoming words, at least not in a way that goes beyond simple priming between words. Recent evidence, however, suggests that readers and listeners do anticipate upcoming words “on the fly” as a text unfolds. In 2 event-related potentials experiments, this study examined whether these predictions are based on the exact message conveyed by the prior discourse or on simpler word-based priming mechanisms. Participants read texts that strongly supported the prediction of a specific word, mixed with non-predictive control texts that contained the same prime words. In Experiment 1A, anomalous words that replaced a highly predictable (as opposed to a non-predictable but coherent) word elicited a long-lasting positive shift, suggesting that the prior discourse had indeed led people to predict specific words. In Experiment 1B, adjectives whose suffix mismatched the predictable noun's syntactic gender elicited a short-lived late negativity in predictive stories but not in prime control stories. Taken together, these findings reveal that the conceptual basis for predicting specific upcoming words during reading is the exact message conveyed by the discourse and not the mere presence of prime words.
  • Ozyurek, A., Kita, S., Allen, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., & Ishizuka, T. (2008). Development of cross-linguistic variation in speech and gesture: motion events in English and Turkish. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 1040-1054. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.44.4.1040.

    Abstract

    The way adults express manner and path components of a motion event varies across typologically different languages both in speech and cospeech gestures, showing that language specificity in event encoding influences gesture. The authors tracked when and how this multimodal cross-linguistic variation develops in children learning Turkish and English, 2 typologically distinct languages. They found that children learn to speak in language-specific ways from age 3 onward (i.e., English speakers used 1 clause and Turkish speakers used 2 clauses to express manner and path). In contrast, English- and Turkish-speaking children’s gestures looked similar at ages 3 and 5 (i.e., separate gestures for manner and path), differing from each other only at age 9 and in adulthood (i.e., English speakers used 1 gesture, but Turkish speakers used separate gestures for manner and path). The authors argue that this pattern of the development of cospeech gestures reflects a gradual shift to language-specific representations during speaking and shows that looking at speech alone may not be sufficient to understand the full process of language acquisition.
  • Patel, A. D., Iversen, J. R., Wassenaar, M., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Musical syntactic processing in agrammatic Broca's aphasia. Aphasiology, 22(7/8), 776-789. doi:10.1080/02687030701803804.

    Abstract

    Background: Growing evidence for overlap in the syntactic processing of language and music in non-brain-damaged individuals leads to the question of whether aphasic individuals with grammatical comprehension problems in language also have problems processing structural relations in music. Aims: The current study sought to test musical syntactic processing in individuals with Broca's aphasia and grammatical comprehension deficits, using both explicit and implicit tasks. Methods & Procedures: Two experiments were conducted. In the first experiment 12 individuals with Broca's aphasia (and 14 matched controls) were tested for their sensitivity to grammatical and semantic relations in sentences, and for their sensitivity to musical syntactic (harmonic) relations in chord sequences. An explicit task (acceptability judgement of novel sequences) was used. The second experiment, with 9 individuals with Broca's aphasia (and 12 matched controls), probed musical syntactic processing using an implicit task (harmonic priming). Outcomes & Results: In both experiments the aphasic group showed impaired processing of musical syntactic relations. Control experiments indicated that this could not be attributed to low-level problems with the perception of pitch patterns or with auditory short-term memory for tones. Conclusions: The results suggest that musical syntactic processing in agrammatic aphasia deserves systematic investigation, and that such studies could help probe the nature of the processing deficits underlying linguistic agrammatism. Methodological suggestions are offered for future work in this little-explored area.
  • Perniss, P. M., & Ozyurek, A. (2008). Representations of action, motion and location in sign space: A comparison of German (DGS) and Turkish (TID) sign language narratives. In J. Quer (Ed.), Signs of the time: Selected papers from TISLR 8 (pp. 353-376). Seedorf: Signum Press.
  • Petersson, K. M. (2008). On cognition, structured sequence processing, and adaptive dynamical systems. American Institute of Physics Conference Proceedings, 1060(1), 195-200.

    Abstract

    Cognitive neuroscience approaches the brain as a cognitive system: a system that functionally is conceptualized in terms of information processing. We outline some aspects of this concept and consider a physical system to be an information processing device when a subclass of its physical states can be viewed as representational/cognitive and transitions between these can be conceptualized as a process operating on these states by implementing operations on the corresponding representational structures. We identify a generic and fundamental problem in cognition: sequentially organized structured processing. Structured sequence processing provides the brain, in an essential sense, with its processing logic. In an approach addressing this problem, we illustrate how to integrate levels of analysis within a framework of adaptive dynamical systems. We note that the dynamical system framework lends itself to a description of asynchronous event-driven devices, which is likely to be important in cognition because the brain appears to be an asynchronous processing system. We use the human language faculty and natural language processing as a concrete example through out.
  • Scheeringa, R., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Petersson, K. M., Oostenveld, R., Norris, D. G., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Frontal theta EEG activity correlates negatively with the default mode network in resting state. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 67, 242-251. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2007.05.017.

    Abstract

    We used simultaneously recorded EEG and fMRI to investigate in which areas the BOLD signal correlates with frontal theta power changes, while subjects were quietly lying resting in the scanner with their eyes open. To obtain a reliable estimate of frontal theta power we applied ICA on band-pass filtered (2–9 Hz) EEG data. For each subject we selected the component that best matched the mid-frontal scalp topography associated with the frontal theta rhythm. We applied a time-frequency analysis on this component and used the time course of the frequency bin with the highest overall power to form a regressor that modeled spontaneous fluctuations in frontal theta power. No significant positive BOLD correlations with this regressor were observed. Extensive negative correlations were observed in the areas that together form the default mode network. We conclude that frontal theta activity can be seen as an EEG index of default mode network activity.
  • Senghas, A., Kita, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2008). Children creating core properties of language: Evidence from an emerging sign language in Nicaragua. In K. A. Lindgren, D. DeLuca, & D. J. Napoli (Eds.), Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
  • Toni, I., De Lange, F. P., Noordzij, M. L., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Language beyond action. Journal of Physiology, 102, 71-79. doi:10.1016/j.jphysparis.2008.03.005.

    Abstract

    The discovery of mirror neurons in macaques and of a similar system in humans has provided a new and fertile neurobiological ground for rooting a variety of cognitive faculties. Automatic sensorimotor resonance has been invoked as the key elementary process accounting for disparate (dys)functions, like imitation, ideomotor apraxia, autism, and schizophrenia. In this paper, we provide a critical appraisal of three of these claims that deal with the relationship between language and the motor system. Does language comprehension require the motor system? Was there an evolutionary switch from manual gestures to speech as the primary mode of language? Is human communication explained by automatic sensorimotor resonances? A positive answer to these questions would open the tantalizing possibility of bringing language and human communication within the fold of the motor system. We argue that the available empirical evidence does not appear to support these claims, and their theoretical scope fails to account for some crucial features of the phenomena they are supposed to explain. Without denying the enormous importance of the discovery of mirror neurons, we highlight the limits of their explanatory power for understanding language and communication.
  • Uddén, J., Folia, V., Forkstam, C., Ingvar, M., Fernández, G., Overeem, S., Van Elswijk, G., Hagoort, P., & Petersson, K. M. (2008). The inferior frontal cortex in artificial syntax processing: An rTMS study. Brain Research, 1224, 69-78. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.05.070.

    Abstract

    The human capacity to implicitly acquire knowledge of structured sequences has recently been investigated in artificial grammar learning using functional magnetic resonance imaging. It was found that the left inferior frontal cortex (IFC; Brodmann's area (BA) 44/45) was related to classification performance. The objective of this study was to investigate whether the IFC (BA 44/45) is causally related to classification of artificial syntactic structures by means of an off-line repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) paradigm. We manipulated the stimulus material in a 2 × 2 factorial design with grammaticality status and local substring familiarity as factors. The participants showed a reliable effect of grammaticality on classification of novel items after 5days of exposure to grammatical exemplars without performance feedback in an implicit acquisition task. The results show that rTMS of BA 44/45 improves syntactic classification performance by increasing the rejection rate of non-grammatical items and by shortening reaction times of correct rejections specifically after left-sided stimulation. A similar pattern of results is observed in FMRI experiments on artificial syntactic classification. These results suggest that activity in the inferior frontal region is causally related to artificial syntax processing.
  • Van Heuven, W. J. B., Schriefers, H., Dijkstra, T., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Language conflict in the bilingual brain. Cerebral Cortex, 18(11), 2706-2716. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn030.

    Abstract

    The large majority of humankind is more or less fluent in 2 or even more languages. This raises the fundamental question how the language network in the brain is organized such that the correct target language is selected at a particular occasion. Here we present behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging data showing that bilingual processing leads to language conflict in the bilingual brain even when the bilinguals’ task only required target language knowledge. This finding demonstrates that the bilingual brain cannot avoid language conflict, because words from the target and nontarget languages become automatically activated during reading. Importantly, stimulus-based language conflict was found in brain regions in the LIPC associated with phonological and semantic processing, whereas response-based language conflict was only found in the pre-supplementary motor area/anterior cingulate cortex when language conflict leads to response conflicts.
  • Van Berkum, J. J. A., Van den Brink, D., Tesink, C. M. J. Y., Kos, M., & Hagoort, P. (2008). The neural integration of speaker and message. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(4), 580-591. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20054.

    Abstract

    When do listeners take into account who the speaker is? We asked people to listen to utterances whose content sometimes did not match inferences based on the identity of the speaker (e.g., “If only I looked like Britney Spears” in a male voice, or “I have a large tattoo on my back” spoken with an upper-class accent). Event-related brain responses revealed that the speaker's identity is taken into account as early as 200–300 msec after the beginning of a spoken word, and is processed by the same early interpretation mechanism that constructs sentence meaning based on just the words. This finding is difficult to reconcile with standard “Gricean” models of sentence interpretation in which comprehenders initially compute a local, context-independent meaning for the sentence (“semantics”) before working out what it really means given the wider communicative context and the particular speaker (“pragmatics”). Because the observed brain response hinges on voice-based and usually stereotype-dependent inferences about the speaker, it also shows that listeners rapidly classify speakers on the basis of their voices and bring the associated social stereotypes to bear on what is being said. According to our event-related potential results, language comprehension takes very rapid account of the social context, and the construction of meaning based on language alone cannot be separated from the social aspects of language use. The linguistic brain relates the message to the speaker immediately.
  • Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2008). Understanding sentences in context: What brain waves can tell us. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(6), 376-380. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00609.x.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension looks pretty easy. You pick up a novel and simply enjoy the plot, or ponder the human condition. You strike a conversation and listen to whatever the other person has to say. Although what you're taking in is a bunch of letters and sounds, what you really perceive—if all goes well—is meaning. But how do you get from one to the other so easily? The experiments with brain waves (event-related brain potentials or ERPs) reviewed here show that the linguistic brain rapidly draws upon a wide variety of information sources, including prior text and inferences about the speaker. Furthermore, people anticipate what might be said about whom, they use heuristics to arrive at the earliest possible interpretation, and if it makes sense, they sometimes even ignore the grammar. Language comprehension is opportunistic, proactive, and, above all, immediately context-dependent.
  • Willems, R. M., Oostenveld, R., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Early decreases in alpha and gamma band power distinguish linguistic from visual information during spoken sentence comprehension. Brain Research, 1219, 78-90. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.04.065.

    Abstract

    Language is often perceived together with visual information. This raises the question on how the brain integrates information conveyed in visual and/or linguistic format during spoken language comprehension. In this study we investigated the dynamics of semantic integration of visual and linguistic information by means of time-frequency analysis of the EEG signal. A modified version of the N400 paradigm with either a word or a picture of an object being semantically incongruous with respect to the preceding sentence context was employed. Event-Related Potential (ERP) analysis showed qualitatively similar N400 effects for integration of either word or picture. Time-frequency analysis revealed early specific decreases in alpha and gamma band power for linguistic and visual information respectively. We argue that these reflect a rapid context-based analysis of acoustic (word) or visual (picture) form information. We conclude that although full semantic integration of linguistic and visual information occurs through a common mechanism, early differences in oscillations in specific frequency bands reflect the format of the incoming information and, importantly, an early context-based detection of its congruity with respect to the preceding language context
  • Willems, R. M., Ozyurek, A., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Seeing and hearing meaning: ERP and fMRI evidence of word versus picture integration into a sentence context. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 1235-1249. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20085.

    Abstract

    Understanding language always occurs within a situational context and, therefore, often implies combining streams of information from different domains and modalities. One such combination is that of spoken language and visual information, which are perceived together in a variety of ways during everyday communication. Here we investigate whether and how words and pictures differ in terms of their neural correlates when they are integrated into a previously built-up sentence context. This is assessed in two experiments looking at the time course (measuring event-related potentials, ERPs) and the locus (using functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) of this integration process. We manipulated the ease of semantic integration of word and/or picture to a previous sentence context to increase the semantic load of processing. In the ERP study, an increased semantic load led to an N400 effect which was similar for pictures and words in terms of latency and amplitude. In the fMRI study, we found overlapping activations to both picture and word integration in the left inferior frontal cortex. Specific activations for the integration of a word were observed in the left superior temporal cortex. We conclude that despite obvious differences in representational format, semantic information coming from pictures and words is integrated into a sentence context in similar ways in the brain. This study adds to the growing insight that the language system incorporates (semantic) information coming from linguistic and extralinguistic domains with the same neural time course and by recruitment of overlapping brain areas.
  • Li, X., Yang, Y., & Hagoort, P. (2008). Pitch accent and lexical tone processing in Chinese discourse comprehension: An ERP study. Brain Research, 1222, 192-200. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.05.031.

    Abstract

    In the present study, event-related brain potentials (ERP) were recorded to investigate the role of pitch accent and lexical tone in spoken discourse comprehension. Chinese was used as material to explore the potential difference in the nature and time course of brain responses to sentence meaning as indicated by pitch accent and to lexical meaning as indicated by tone. In both cases, the pitch contour of critical words was varied. The results showed that both inconsistent pitch accent and inconsistent lexical tone yielded N400 effects, and there was no interaction between them. The negativity evoked by inconsistent pitch accent had the some topography as that evoked by inconsistent lexical tone violation, with a maximum over central–parietal electrodes. Furthermore, the effect for the combined violations was the sum of effects for pure pitch accent and pure lexical tone violation. However, the effect for the lexical tone violation appeared approximately 90 ms earlier than the effect of the pitch accent violation. It is suggested that there might be a correspondence between the neural mechanism underlying pitch accent and lexical meaning processing in context. They both reflect the integration of the current information into a discourse context, independent of whether the current information was sentence meaning indicated by accentuation, or lexical meaning indicated by tone. In addition, lexical meaning was processed earlier than sentence meaning conveyed by pitch accent during spoken language processing.
  • Zwitserlood, I., Ozyurek, A., & Perniss, P. M. (2008). Annotation of sign and gesture cross-linguistically. In O. Crasborn, E. Efthimiou, T. Hanke, E. D. Thoutenhoofd, & I. Zwitserlood (Eds.), Construction and Exploitation of Sign Language Corpora. 3rd Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages (pp. 185-190). Paris: ELDA.

    Abstract

    This paper discusses the construction of a cross-linguistic, bimodal corpus containing three modes of expression: expressions from two sign languages, speech and gestural expressions in two spoken languages and pantomimic expressions by users of two spoken languages who are requested to convey information without speaking. We discuss some problems and tentative solutions for the annotation of utterances expressing spatial information about referents in these three modes, suggesting a set of comparable codes for the description of both sign and gesture. Furthermore, we discuss the processing of entered annotations in ELAN, e.g. relating descriptive annotations to analytic annotations in all three modes and performing relational searches across annotations on different tiers.
  • Allen, S., Ozyurek, A., Kita, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., Ishizuka, T., & Fujii, M. (2007). Language-specific and universal influences in children's syntactic packaging of manner and path: A comparison of English, Japanese, and Turkish. Cognition, 102, 16-48. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2005.12.006.

    Abstract

    Different languages map semantic elements of spatial relations onto different lexical and syntactic units. These crosslinguistic differences raise important questions for language development in terms of how this variation is learned by children. We investigated how Turkish-, English-, and Japanese-speaking children (mean age 3;8) package the semantic elements of Manner and Path onto syntactic units when both the Manner and the Path of the moving Figure occur simultaneously and are salient in the event depicted. Both universal and language-specific patterns were evident in our data. Children used the semantic-syntactic mappings preferred by adult speakers of their own languages, and even expressed subtle syntactic differences that encode different relations between Manner and Path in the same way as their adult counterparts (i.e., Manner causing vs. incidental to Path). However, not all types of semantics-syntax mappings were easy for children to learn (e.g., expressing Manner and Path elements in two verbal clauses). In such cases, Turkish- and Japanese-speaking children frequently used syntactic patterns that were not typical in the target language but were similar to patterns used by English-speaking children, suggesting some universal influence. Thus, both language-specific and universal tendencies guide the development of complex spatial expressions.
  • Bramão, I., Mendonça, A., Faísca, L., Ingvar, M., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2007). The impact of reading and writing skills on a visuo-motor integration task: A comparison between illiterate and literate subjects. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 13(2), 359-364. doi:10.1017/S1355617707070440.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown a significant association between reading skills and the performance on visuo-motor tasks. In order to clarify whether reading and writing skills modulate non-linguistic domains, we investigated the performance of two literacy groups on a visuo-motor integration task with non-linguistic stimuli. Twenty-one illiterate participants and twenty matched literate controls were included in the experiment. Subjects were instructed to use the right or the left index finger to point to and touch a randomly presented target on the right or left side of a touch screen. The results showed that the literate subjects were significantly faster in detecting and touching targets on the left compared to the right side of the screen. In contrast, the presentation side did not affect the performance of the illiterate group. These results lend support to the idea that having acquired reading and writing skills, and thus a preferred left-to-right reading direction, influences visual scanning. (JINS, 2007, 13, 359–364
  • Furman, R., & Ozyurek, A. (2007). Development of interactional discourse markers: Insights from Turkish children's and adults' narratives. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(10), 1742-1757. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2007.01.008.

    Abstract

    Discourse markers (DMs) are linguistic elements that index different relations and coherence between units of talk (Schiffrin, Deborah, 1987. Discourse Markers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge). Most research on the development of these forms has focused on conversations rather than narratives and furthermore has not directly compared children's use of DMs to adult usage. This study examines the development of three DMs (şey ‘uuhh’, yani ‘I mean’, işte ‘y’know’) that mark interactional levels of discourse in oral Turkish narratives in 60 Turkish children (3-, 5- and 9-year-olds) and 20 Turkish-speaking adults. The results show that the frequency and functions of DMs change with age. Children learn şey, which mainly marks exchange level structures, earliest. However, yani and işte have multi-functions such as marking both information states and participation frameworks and are consequently learned later. Children also use DMs with different functions than adults. Overall, the results show that learning to use interactional DMs in narratives is complex and goes beyond age 9, especially for multi-functional DMs that index an interplay of discourse coherence at different levels.
  • Gisselgard, J., Uddén, J., Ingvar, M., & Petersson, K. M. (2007). Disruption of order information by irrelevant items: A serial recognition paradigm. Acta Psychologica, 124(3), 356-369. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.04.002.

    Abstract

    Irrelevant speech effect (ISE) is defined as a decrement in visually presented digit-list short-term memory performance due to exposure to irrelevant auditory material. Perhaps the most successful theoretical explanation of the effect is the changing state hypothesis. This hypothesis explains the effect in terms of confusion between amodal serial order cues, and represents a view based on the interference caused by the processing of similar order information of the visual and auditory materials. An alternative view suggests that the interference occurs as a consequence of the similarity between the visual and auditory contents of the stimuli. An important argument for the former view is the observation that ISE is almost exclusively observed in tasks that require memory for serial order. However, most short-term memory tasks require that both item and order information be retained in memory. An ideal task to investigate the sensitivity of maintenance of serial order to irrelevant speech would be one that calls upon order information but not item information. One task that is particularly suited to address this issue is serial recognition. In a typical serial recognition task, a list of items is presented and then probed by the same list in which the order of two adjacent items has been transposed. Due to the re-presentation of the encoding string, serial recognition requires primarily the serial order to be maintained while the content of the presented items is deemphasized. In demonstrating a highly significant ISE of changing versus steady-state auditory items in a serial recognition task, the present finding lends support for and extends previous empirical findings suggesting that irrelevant speech has the potential to interfere with the coding of the order of the items to be memorized.
  • Gürcanli, Ö., Nakipoglu Demiralp, M., & Ozyurek, A. (2007). Shared information and argument omission in Turkish. In H. Caunt-Nulton, S. Kulatilake, & I. Woo (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Boston University Conference on Language Developement (pp. 267-273). Somerville, Mass: Cascadilla Press.
  • Hagoort, P., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2007). Beyond the sentence given. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B: Biological Sciences, 362, 801-811.

    Abstract

    A central and influential idea among researchers of language is that our language faculty is organized according to Fregean compositionality, which states that the meaning of an utterance is a function of the meaning of its parts and of the syntactic rules by which these parts are combined. Since the domain of syntactic rules is the sentence, the implication of this idea is that language interpretation takes place in a two-step fashion. First, the meaning of a sentence is computed. In a second step, the sentence meaning is integrated with information from prior discourse, world knowledge, information about the speaker and semantic information from extra-linguistic domains such as co-speech gestures or the visual world. Here, we present results from recordings of event-related brain potentials that are inconsistent with this classical two-step model of language interpretation. Our data support a one-step model in which knowledge about the context and the world, concomitant information from other modalities, and the speaker are brought to bear immediately, by the same fast-acting brain system that combines the meanings of individual words into a message-level representation. Underlying the one-step model is the immediacy assumption, according to which all available information will immediately be used to co-determine the interpretation of the speaker's message. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data that we collected indicate that Broca's area plays an important role in semantic unification. Language comprehension involves the rapid incorporation of information in a 'single unification space', coming from a broader range of cognitive domains than presupposed in the standard two-step model of interpretation.
  • Hagoort, P. (2007). The memory, unification, and control (MUC) model of language. In T. Sakamoto (Ed.), Communicating skills of intention (pp. 259-291). Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.
  • Hagoort, P. (2007). The memory, unification, and control (MUC) model of language. In A. S. Meyer, L. Wheeldon, & A. Krott (Eds.), Automaticity and control in language processing (pp. 243-270). Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Hald, L. A., Steenbeek-Planting, E. G., & Hagoort, P. (2007). The interaction of discourse context and world knowledge in online sentence comprehension: Evidence from the N400. Brain Research, 1146, 210-218. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.02.054.

    Abstract

    In an ERP experiment we investigated how the recruitment and integration of world knowledge information relate to the integration of information within a current discourse context. Participants were presented with short discourse contexts which were followed by a sentence that contained a critical word that was correct or incorrect based on general world knowledge and the supporting discourse context, or was more or less acceptable based on the combination of general world knowledge and the specific local discourse context. Relative to the critical word in the correct world knowledge sentences following a neutral discourse, all other critical words elicited an N400 effect that began at about 300 ms after word onset. However, the magnitude of the N400 effect varied in a way that suggests an interaction between world knowledge and discourse context. The results indicate that both world knowledge and discourse context have an effect on sentence interpretation, but neither overrides the other.
  • Janzen, G., Wagensveld, B., & Van Turennout, M. (2007). Neural representation of navigational relevance is rapidly induced and long lasting. Cerebral Cortex, 17(4), 975-981. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhl008.

    Abstract

    Successful navigation is facilitated by the presence of landmarks. Previous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) evidence indicated that the human parahippocampal gyrus automatically distinguishes between landmarks placed at navigationally relevant (decision points) and irrelevant locations (nondecision points). This storage of navigational relevance can provide a neural mechanism underlying successful navigation. However, an efficient wayfinding mechanism requires that important spatial information is learned quickly and maintained over time. The present study investigates whether the representation of navigational relevance is modulated by time and practice. Participants learned 2 film sequences through virtual mazes containing objects at decision and at nondecision points. One maze was shown one time, and the other maze was shown 3 times. Twenty-four hours after study, event-related fMRI data were acquired during recognition of the objects. The results showed that activity in the parahippocampal gyrus was increased for objects previously placed at decision points as compared with objects placed at nondecision points. The decision point effect was not modulated by the number of exposures to the mazes and independent of explicit memory functions. These findings suggest a persistent representation of navigationally relevant information, which is stable after only one exposure to an environment. These rapidly induced and long-lasting changes in object representation provide a basis for successful wayfinding.
  • Janzen, G., & Weststeijn, C. G. (2007). Neural representation of object location and route direction: An event-related fMRI study. Brain Research, 1165, 116-125. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.05.074.

    Abstract

    The human brain distinguishes between landmarks placed at navigationally relevant and irrelevant locations. However, to provide a successful wayfinding mechanism not only landmarks but also the routes between them need to be stored. We examined the neural representation of a memory for route direction and a memory for relevant landmarks. Healthy human adults viewed objects along a route through a virtual maze. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were acquired during a subsequent subliminal priming recognition task. Prime-objects either preceded or succeeded a target-object on a preciously learned route. Our results provide evidence that the parahippocampal gyri distinguish between relevant and irrelevant landmarks whereas the inferior parietal gyrus, the anterior cingulate gyrus as well as the right caudate nucleus are involved in the coding of route direction. These data show that separated memory systems store different spatial information. A memory for navigationally relevant object information and a memory for route direction exist.
  • Kelly, S. D., & Ozyurek, A. (Eds.). (2007). Gesture, language, and brain [Special Issue]. Brain and Language, 101(3).
  • Kita, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2007). How does spoken language shape iconic gestures? In S. Duncan, J. Cassel, & E. Levy (Eds.), Gesture and the dynamic dimension of language (pp. 67-74). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Kita, S., Ozyurek, A., Allen, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., & Ishizuka, T. (2007). Relations between syntactic encoding and co-speech gestures: Implications for a model of speech and gesture production. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22(8), 1212-1236. doi:10.1080/01690960701461426.

    Abstract

    Gestures that accompany speech are known to be tightly coupled with speech production. However little is known about the cognitive processes that underlie this link. Previous cross-linguistic research has provided preliminary evidence for online interaction between the two systems based on the systematic co-variation found between how different languages syntactically package Manner and Path information of a motion event and how gestures represent Manner and Path. Here we elaborate on this finding by testing whether speakers within the same language gesturally express Manner and Path differently according to their online choice of syntactic packaging of Manner and Path, or whether gestural expression is pre-determined by a habitual conceptual schema congruent with the linguistic typology. Typologically congruent and incongruent syntactic structures for expressing Manner and Path (i.e., in a single clause or multiple clauses) were elicited from English speakers. We found that gestural expressions were determined by the online choice of syntactic packaging rather than by a habitual conceptual schema. It is therefore concluded that speech and gesture production processes interface online at the conceptual planning phase. Implications of the findings for models of speech and gesture production are discussed
  • Marklund, P., Fransson, P., Cabeza, R., Petersson, K. M., Ingvar, M., & Nyberg, L. (2007). Sustained and transient neural modulations in prefrontal cortex related to declarative long-term memory, working memory, and attention. Cortex, 43(1), 22-37. doi:10.1016/S0010-9452(08)70443-X.

    Abstract

    Common activations in prefrontal cortex (PFC) during episodic and semantic long-term memory (LTM) tasks have been hypothesized to reflect functional overlap in terms of working memory (WM) and cognitive control. To evaluate a WM account of LTM-general activations, the present study took into consideration that cognitive task performance depends on the dynamic operation of multiple component processes, some of which are stimulus-synchronous and transient in nature; and some that are engaged throughout a task in a sustained fashion. PFC and WM may be implicated in both of these temporally independent components. To elucidate these possibilities we employed mixed blocked/event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) procedures to assess the extent to which sustained or transient activation patterns overlapped across tasks indexing episodic and semantic LTM, attention (ATT), and WM. Within PFC, ventrolateral and medial areas exhibited sustained activity across all tasks, whereas more anterior regions including right frontopolar cortex were commonly engaged in sustained processing during the three memory tasks. These findings do not support a WM account of sustained frontal responses during LTM tasks, but instead suggest that the pattern that was common to all tasks reflects general attentional set/vigilance, and that the shared WM-LTM pattern mediates control processes related to upholding task set. Transient responses during the three memory tasks were assessed relative to ATT to isolate item-specific mnemonic processes and were found to be largely distinct from sustained effects. Task-specific effects were observed for each memory task. In addition, a common item response for all memory tasks involved left dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC). The latter response might be seen as reflecting WM processes during LTM retrieval. Thus, our findings suggest that a WM account of shared PFC recruitment in LTM tasks holds for common transient item-related responses rather than sustained state-related responses that are better seen as reflecting more general attentional/control processes.
  • Menenti, L., & Burani, C. (2007). What causes the effect of age of acquisition in lexical processing? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(5), 652-660. doi:10.1080/17470210601100126.

    Abstract

    Three hypotheses for effects of age of acquisition (AoA) in lexical processing are compared: the cumulative frequency hypothesis (frequency and AoA both influence the number of encounters with a word, which influences processing speed), the semantic hypothesis (early-acquired words are processed faster because they are more central in the semantic network), and the neural network model (early-acquired words are faster because they are acquired when a network has maximum plasticity). In a regression study of lexical decision (LD) and semantic categorization (SC) in Italian and Dutch, contrary to the cumulative frequency hypothesis, AoA coefficients were larger than frequency coefficients, and, contrary to the semantic hypothesis, the effect of AoA was not larger in SC than in LD. The neural network model was supported.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Petersson, K. M., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2007). On sense and reference: Examining the functional neuroanatomy of referential processing. NeuroImage, 37(3), 993-1004. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.05.048.

    Abstract

    In an event-related fMRI study, we examined the cortical networks involved in establishing reference during language comprehension. We compared BOLD responses to sentences containing referentially ambiguous pronouns (e.g., “Ronald told Frank that he…”), referentially failing pronouns (e.g., “Rose told Emily that he…”) or coherent pronouns. Referential ambiguity selectively recruited medial prefrontal regions, suggesting that readers engaged in problem-solving to select a unique referent from the discourse model. Referential failure elicited activation increases in brain regions associated with morpho-syntactic processing, and, for those readers who took failing pronouns to refer to unmentioned entities, additional regions associated with elaborative inferencing were observed. The networks activated by these two referential problems did not overlap with the network activated by a standard semantic anomaly. Instead, we observed a double dissociation, in that the systems activated by semantic anomaly are deactivated by referential ambiguity, and vice versa. This inverse coupling may reflect the dynamic recruitment of semantic and episodic processing to resolve semantically or referentially problematic situations. More generally, our findings suggest that neurocognitive accounts of language comprehension need to address not just how we parse a sentence and combine individual word meanings, but also how we determine who's who and what's what during language comprehension.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Otten, M., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2007). Who are you talking about? Tracking discourse-level referential processing with event-related brain potentials. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(2), 228-236. doi:10.1162/jocn.2007.19.2.228.

    Abstract

    In this event-related brain potentials (ERPs) study, we explored the possibility to selectively track referential ambiguity during spoken discourse comprehension. Earlier ERP research has shown that referentially ambiguous nouns (e.g., “the girl” in a two-girl context) elicit a frontal, sustained negative shift relative to unambiguous control words. In the current study, we examined whether this ERP effect reflects “deep” situation model ambiguity or “superficial” textbase ambiguity. We contrasted these different interpretations by investigating whether a discourse-level semantic manipulation that prevents referential ambiguity also averts the elicitation of a referentially induced ERP effect. We compared ERPs elicited by nouns that were referentially nonambiguous but were associated with two discourse entities (e.g., “the girl” with two girls introduced in the context, but one of which has died or left the scene), with referentially ambiguous and nonambiguous control words. Although temporally referentially ambiguous nouns elicited a frontal negative shift compared to control words, the “double bound” but referentially nonambiguous nouns did not. These results suggest that it is possible to selectively track referential ambiguity with ERPs at the level that is most relevant to discourse comprehension, the situation model.
  • Otten, M., Nieuwland, M. S., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2007). Great expectations: Specific lexical anticipation influences the processing of spoken language. BMC Neuroscience, 8: 89. doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-89.

    Abstract

    Background Recently several studies have shown that people use contextual information to make predictions about the rest of the sentence or story as the text unfolds. Using event related potentials (ERPs) we tested whether these on-line predictions are based on a message-based representation of the discourse or on simple automatic activation by individual words. Subjects heard short stories that were highly constraining for one specific noun, or stories that were not specifically predictive but contained the same prime words as the predictive stories. To test whether listeners make specific predictions critical nouns were preceded by an adjective that was inflected according to, or in contrast with, the gender of the expected noun. Results When the message of the preceding discourse was predictive, adjectives with an unexpected gender-inflection evoked a negative deflection over right-frontal electrodes between 300 and 600 ms. This effect was not present in the prime control context, indicating that the prediction mismatch does not hinge on word-based priming but is based on the actual message of the discourse. Conclusions When listening to a constraining discourse people rapidly make very specific predictions about the remainder of the story, as the story unfolds. These predictions are not simply based on word-based automatic activation, but take into account the actual message of the discourse.
  • Otten, M., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2007). What makes a discourse constraining? Comparing the effects of discourse message and scenario fit on the discourse-dependent N400 effect. Brain Research, 1153, 166-177. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.03.058.

    Abstract

    A discourse context provides a reader with a great deal of information that can provide constraints for further language processing, at several different levels. In this experiment we used event-related potentials (ERPs) to explore whether discourse-generated contextual constraints are based on the precise message of the discourse or, more `loosely', on the scenario suggested by one or more content words in the text. Participants read constraining stories whose precise message rendered a particular word highly predictable ("The manager thought that the board of directors should assemble to discuss the issue. He planned a...[meeting]") as well as non-constraining control stories that were only biasing in virtue of the scenario suggested by some of the words ("The manager thought that the board of directors need not assemble to discuss the issue. He planned a..."). Coherent words that were inconsistent with the message-level expectation raised in a constraining discourse (e.g., "session" instead of "meeting") elicited a classic centroparietal N400 effect. However, when the same words were only inconsistent with the scenario loosely suggested by earlier words in the text, they elicited a different negativity around 400 ms, with a more anterior, left-lateralized maximum. The fact that the discourse-dependent N400 effect cannot be reduced to scenario-mediated priming reveals that it reflects the rapid use of precise message-level constraints in comprehension. At the same time, the left-lateralized negativity in non-constraining stories suggests that, at least in the absence of strong message-level constraints, scenario-mediated priming does also rapidly affect comprehension.
  • Ozyurek, A., & Kelly, S. D. (2007). Gesture, language, and brain. Brain and Language, 101(3), 181-185. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2007.03.006.
  • Ozyurek, A. (2007). Processing of multi-modal semantic information: Insights from cross-linguistic comparisons and neurophysiological recordings. In T. Sakamoto (Ed.), Communicating skills of intention (pp. 131-142). Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo Publishing.
  • Ozyurek, A., Willems, R. M., Kita, S., & Hagoort, P. (2007). On-line integration of semantic information from speech and gesture: Insights from event-related brain potentials. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(4), 605-616. doi:10.1162/jocn.2007.19.4.605.

    Abstract

    During language comprehension, listeners use the global semantic representation from previous sentence or discourse context to immediately integrate the meaning of each upcoming word into the unfolding message-level representation. Here we investigate whether communicative gestures that often spontaneously co-occur with speech are processed in a similar fashion and integrated to previous sentence context in the same way as lexical meaning. Event-related potentials were measured while subjects listened to spoken sentences with a critical verb (e.g., knock), which was accompanied by an iconic co-speech gesture (i.e., KNOCK). Verbal and/or gestural semantic content matched or mismatched the content of the preceding part of the sentence. Despite the difference in the modality and in the specificity of meaning conveyed by spoken words and gestures, the latency, amplitude, and topographical distribution of both word and gesture mismatches are found to be similar, indicating that the brain integrates both types of information simultaneously. This provides evidence for the claim that neural processing in language comprehension involves the simultaneous incorporation of information coming from a broader domain of cognition than only verbal semantics. The neural evidence for similar integration of information from speech and gesture emphasizes the tight interconnection between speech and co-speech gestures.
  • Petersson, K. M., Silva, C., Castro-Caldas, A., Ingvar, M., & Reis, A. (2007). Literacy: A cultural influence on functional left-right differences in the inferior parietal cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience, 26(3), 791-799. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05701.x.

    Abstract

    The current understanding of hemispheric interaction is limited. Functional hemispheric specialization is likely to depend on both genetic and environmental factors. In the present study we investigated the importance of one factor, literacy, for the functional lateralization in the inferior parietal cortex in two independent samples of literate and illiterate subjects. The results show that the illiterate group are consistently more right-lateralized than their literate controls. In contrast, the two groups showed a similar degree of left-right differences in early speech-related regions of the superior temporal cortex. These results provide evidence suggesting that a cultural factor, literacy, influences the functional hemispheric balance in reading and verbal working memory-related regions. In a third sample, we investigated grey and white matter with voxel-based morphometry. The results showed differences between literacy groups in white matter intensities related to the mid-body region of the corpus callosum and the inferior parietal and parietotemporal regions (literate > illiterate). There were no corresponding differences in the grey matter. This suggests that the influence of literacy on brain structure related to reading and verbal working memory is affecting large-scale brain connectivity more than grey matter per se.
  • Qin, S., Piekema, C., Petersson, K. M., Han, B., Luo, J., & Fernández, G. (2007). Probing the transformation of discontinuous associations into episodic memory: An event-related fMRI study. NeuroImage, 38(1), 212-222. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.07.020.

    Abstract

    Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we identified brain regions involved in storing associations of events discontinuous in time into long-term memory. Participants were scanned while memorizing item-triplets including simultaneous and discontinuous associations. Subsequent memory tests showed that participants remembered both types of associations equally well. First, by constructing the contrast between the subsequent memory effects for discontinuous associations and simultaneous associations, we identified the left posterior parahippocampal region, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the basal ganglia, posterior midline structures, and the middle temporal gyrus as being specifically involved in transforming discontinuous associations into episodic memory. Second, we replicated that the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe (MTL) especially the hippocampus are involved in associative memory formation in general. Our findings provide evidence for distinct neural operation(s) that supports the binding and storing discontinuous associations in memory. We suggest that top-down signals from the prefrontal cortex and MTL may trigger reactivation of internal representation in posterior midline structures of the first event, thus allowing it to be associated with the second event. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex together with basal ganglia may support this encoding operation by executive and binding processes within working memory, and the posterior parahippocampal region may play a role in binding and memory formation.
  • Reis, A., Faísca, L., Mendonça, S., Ingvar, M., & Petersson, K. M. (2007). Semantic interference on a phonological task in illiterate subjects. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 48(1), 69-74. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2006.00544.x.

    Abstract

    Previous research suggests that learning an alphabetic written language influences aspects of the auditory-verbal language system. In this study, we examined whether literacy influences the notion of words as phonological units independent of lexical semantics in literate and illiterate subjects. Subjects had to decide which item in a word- or pseudoword pair was phonologically longest. By manipulating the relationship between referent size and phonological length in three word conditions (congruent, neutral, and incongruent) we could examine to what extent subjects focused on form rather than meaning of the stimulus material. Moreover, the pseudoword condition allowed us to examine global phonological awareness independent of lexical semantics. The results showed that literate performed significantly better than illiterate subjects in the neutral and incongruent word conditions as well as in the pseudoword condition. The illiterate group performed least well in the incongruent condition and significantly better in the pseudoword condition compared to the neutral and incongruent word conditions and suggest that performance on phonological word length comparisons is dependent on literacy. In addition, the results show that the illiterate participants are able to perceive and process phonological length, albeit less well than the literate subjects, when no semantic interference is present. In conclusion, the present results confirm and extend the finding that illiterate subjects are biased towards semantic-conceptual-pragmatic types of cognitive processing.
  • De Ruiter, J. P., Noordzij, M. L., Newman-Norlund, S., Hagoort, P., & Toni, I. (2007). On the origins of intentions. In P. Haggard, Y. Rossetti, & M. Kawato (Eds.), Sensorimotor foundations of higher cognition (pp. 593-610). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Snijders, T. M., Kooijman, V., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2007). Neurophysiological evidence of delayed segmentation in a foreign language. Brain Research, 1178, 106-113. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.07.080.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that segmentation skills are language-specific, making it difficult to segment continuous speech in an unfamiliar language into its component words. Here we present the first study capturing the delay in segmentation and recognition in the foreign listener using ERPs. We compared the ability of Dutch adults and of English adults without knowledge of Dutch (‘foreign listeners’) to segment familiarized words from continuous Dutch speech. We used the known effect of repetition on the event-related potential (ERP) as an index of recognition of words in continuous speech. Our results show that word repetitions in isolation are recognized with equivalent facility by native and foreign listeners, but word repetitions in continuous speech are not. First, words familiarized in isolation are recognized faster by native than by foreign listeners when they are repeated in continuous speech. Second, when words that have previously been heard only in a continuous-speech context re-occur in continuous speech, the repetition is detected by native listeners, but is not detected by foreign listeners. A preceding speech context facilitates word recognition for native listeners, but delays or even inhibits word recognition for foreign listeners. We propose that the apparent difference in segmentation rate between native and foreign listeners is grounded in the difference in language-specific skills available to the listeners.
  • Takashima, A., Nieuwenhuis, I. L. C., Rijpkema, M., Petersson, K. M., Jensen, O., & Fernández, G. (2007). Memory trace stabilization leads to large-scale changes in the retrieval network: A functional MRI study on associative memory. Learning & Memory, 14, 472-479. doi:10.1101/lm.605607.

    Abstract

    Spaced learning with time to consolidate leads to more stabile memory traces. However, little is known about the neural correlates of trace stabilization, especially in humans. The present fMRI study contrasted retrieval activity of two well-learned sets of face-location associations, one learned in a massed style and tested on the day of learning (i.e., labile condition) and another learned in a spaced scheme over the course of one week (i.e., stabilized condition). Both sets of associations were retrieved equally well, but the retrieval of stabilized association was faster and accompanied by large-scale changes in the network supporting retrieval. Cued recall of stabilized as compared with labile associations was accompanied by increased activity in the precuneus, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the bilateral temporal pole, and left temporo–parietal junction. Conversely, memory representational areas such as the fusiform gyrus for faces and the posterior parietal cortex for locations did not change their activity with stabilization. The changes in activation in the precuneus, which also showed increased connectivity with the fusiform area, are likely to be related to the spatial nature of our task. The activation increase in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, might reflect a general function in stabilized memory retrieval. This area might succeed the hippocampus in linking distributed neocortical representations.
  • Tendolkar, I., Arnold, J., Petersson, K. M., Weis, S., Brockhaus-Dumke, A., Van Eijndhoven, P., Buitelaar, J., & Fernández, G. (2007). Probing the neural correlates of associative memory formation: A parametrically analyzed event-related functional MRI study. Brain Research, 1142, 159-168. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.01.040.

    Abstract

    The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is crucial for declarative memory formation, but the function of its subcomponents in associative memory formation remains controversial. Most functional imaging studies on this topic are based on a stepwise approach comparing a condition with and one without associative encoding. Extending this approach we applied additionally a parametric analysis by varying the amount of associative memory formation. We found a hippocampal subsequent memory effect of almost similar magnitude regardless of the amount of associations formed. By contrast, subsequent memory effects in rhinal and parahippocampal cortices were parametrically and positively modulated by the amount of associations formed. Our results indicate that the parahippocampal region supports associative memory formation as tested here and the hippocampus adds a general mnemonic operation. This pattern of results might suggest a new interpretation. Instead of having either a fixed division of labor between the hippocampus (associative memory formation) and the rhinal cortex (non-associative memory formation) or a functionally unitary MTL system, in which all substructures are contributing to memory formation in a similar way, we propose that the location where associations are formed within the MTL depends on the kind of associations bound: If visual single-dimension associations, as used here, can already be integrated within the parahippocampal region, the hippocampus might add a general purpose mnemonic operation only. In contrast, if associations have to be formed across widely distributed neocortical representations, the hippocampus may provide a binding operation in order to establish a coherent memory.
  • Van Berkum, J. J. A., Koornneef, A. W., Otten, M., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2007). Establishing reference in language comprehension: An electrophysiological perspective. Brain Research, 1146, 158-171. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2006.06.091.

    Abstract

    The electrophysiology of language comprehension has long been dominated by research on syntactic and semantic integration. However, to understand expressions like "he did it" or "the little girl", combining word meanings in accordance with semantic and syntactic constraints is not enough--readers and listeners also need to work out what or who is being referred to. We review our event-related brain potential research on the processes involved in establishing reference, and present a new experiment in which we examine when and how the implicit causality associated with specific interpersonal verbs affects the interpretation of a referentially ambiguous pronoun. The evidence suggests that upon encountering a singular noun or pronoun, readers and listeners immediately inspect their situation model for a suitable discourse entity, such that they can discriminate between having too many, too few, or exactly the right number of referents within at most half a second. Furthermore, our implicit causality findings indicate that a fragment like "David praised Linda because..." can immediately foreground a particular referent, to the extent that a subsequent "he" is at least initially construed as a syntactic error. In all, our brain potential findings suggest that referential processing is highly incremental, and not necessarily contingent upon the syntax. In addition, they demonstrate that we can use ERPs to relatively selectively keep track of how readers and listeners establish reference.
  • Van Alphen, P. M. (2007). Prevoicing in Dutch initial plosives: Production, perception, and word recognition. In J. van de Weijer, & E. van der Torre (Eds.), Voicing in Dutch (pp. 99-124). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Abstract

    Prevoicing is the presence of vocal fold vibration during the closure of initial voiced plosives (negative VOT). The presence or absence of prevoicing is generally used to describe the voicing distinction in Dutch initial plosives. However, a phonetic study showed that prevoicing is frequently absent in Dutch. This article discusses the role of prevoicing in the production and perception of Dutch plosives. Furthermore, two cross-modal priming experiments are presented that examined the effect of prevoicing variation on word recognition. Both experiments showed no difference between primes with 12, 6 or 0 periods of prevoicing, even though a third experiment indicated that listeners could discriminate these words. These results are discussed in light of another priming experiment that did show an effect of the absence of prevoicing, but only when primes had a voiceless word competitor. Phonetic detail appears to influence lexical access only when it helps to distinguish between lexical candidates.
  • Van Alphen, P. M., De Bree, E., Fikkert, P., & Wijnen, F. (2007). The role of metrical stress in comprehension and production of Dutch children at risk of dyslexia. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2007 (pp. 2313-2316). Adelaide: Causal Productions.

    Abstract

    The present study compared the role of metrical stress in comprehension and production of three-year-old children with a familial risk of dyslexia with that of normally developing children. A visual fixation task with stress (mis-)matches in bisyllabic words, as well as a non-word repetition task with bisyllabic targets were presented to the control and at-risk children. Results show that the at-risk group is less sensitive to stress mismatches in word recognition than the control group. Correct production of metrical stress patterns did not differ significantly between the groups, but the percentages of phonemes produced correctly were lower for the at-risk than the control group. The findings indicate that processing of metrical stress patterns is not impaired in at-risk children, but that the at-risk group cannot exploit metrical stress in word recognition
  • Wassenaar, M., & Hagoort, P. (2007). Thematic role assignment in patients with Broca's aphasia: Sentence-picture matching electrified. Neuropsychologia, 45(4), 716-740. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.08.016.

    Abstract

    An event-related brain potential experiment was carried out to investigate on-line thematic role assignment during sentence–picture matching in patients with Broca's aphasia. Subjects were presented with a picture that was followed by an auditory sentence. The sentence either matched the picture or mismatched the visual information depicted. Sentences differed in complexity, and ranged from simple active semantically irreversible sentences to passive semantically reversible sentences. ERPs were recorded while subjects were engaged in sentence–picture matching. In addition, reaction time and accuracy were measured. Three groups of subjects were tested: Broca patients (N = 10), non-aphasic patients with a right hemisphere (RH) lesion (N = 8), and healthy aged-matched controls (N = 15). The results of this study showed that, in neurologically unimpaired individuals, thematic role assignment in the context of visual information was an immediate process. This in contrast to patients with Broca's aphasia who demonstrated no signs of on-line sensitivity to the picture–sentence mismatches. The syntactic contribution to the thematic role assignment process seemed to be diminished given the reduction and even absence of P600 effects. Nevertheless, Broca patients showed some off-line behavioral sensitivity to the sentence–picture mismatches. The long response latencies of Broca's aphasics make it likely that off-line response strategies were used.
  • Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2007). Neural evidence for the interplay between language, gesture, and action: A review. Brain and Language, 101(3), 278-289. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2007.03.004.

    Abstract

    Co-speech gestures embody a form of manual action that is tightly coupled to the language system. As such, the co-occurrence of speech and co-speech gestures is an excellent example of the interplay between language and action. There are, however, other ways in which language and action can be thought of as closely related. In this paper we will give an overview of studies in cognitive neuroscience that examine the neural underpinnings of links between language and action. Topics include neurocognitive studies of motor representations of speech sounds, action-related language, sign language and co-speech gestures. It will be concluded that there is strong evidence on the interaction between speech and gestures in the brain. This interaction however shares general properties with other domains in which there is interplay between language and action.
  • Willems, R. M., Ozyurek, A., & Hagoort, P. (2007). When language meets action: The neural integration of gesture and speech. Cerebral Cortex, 17(10), 2322-2333. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhl141.

    Abstract

    Although generally studied in isolation, language and action often co-occur in everyday life. Here we investigated one particular form of simultaneous language and action, namely speech and gestures that speakers use in everyday communication. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we identified the neural networks involved in the integration of semantic information from speech and gestures. Verbal and/or gestural content could be integrated easily or less easily with the content of the preceding part of speech. Premotor areas involved in action observation (Brodmann area [BA] 6) were found to be specifically modulated by action information "mismatching" to a language context. Importantly, an increase in integration load of both verbal and gestural information into prior speech context activated Broca's area and adjacent cortex (BA 45/47). A classical language area, Broca's area, is not only recruited for language-internal processing but also when action observation is integrated with speech. These findings provide direct evidence that action and language processing share a high-level neural integration system.

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