Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 115
  • Acheson, D. J. (2013). Signatures of response conflict monitoring in language production. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 94, 214-215. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.09.106.
  • Acheson, D. J., & Hagoort, P. (2013). Stimulating the brain's language network: Syntactic ambiguity resolution after TMS to the IFG and MTG. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(10), 1664-1677. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00430.

    Abstract

    The posterior middle temporal gyrus (MTG) and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) are two critical nodes of the brain's language network. Previous neuroimaging evidence has supported a dissociation in language comprehension in which parts of the MTG are involved in the retrieval of lexical syntactic information and the IFG is involved in unification operations that maintain, select, and integrate multiple sources of information over time. In the present investigation, we tested for causal evidence of this dissociation by modulating activity in IFG and MTG using an offline TMS procedure: continuous theta-burst stimulation. Lexical–syntactic retrieval was manipulated by using sentences with and without a temporarily word-class (noun/verb) ambiguity (e.g., run). In one group of participants, TMS was applied to the IFG and MTG, and in a control group, no TMS was applied. Eye movements were recorded and quantified at two critical sentence regions: a temporarily ambiguous region and a disambiguating region. Results show that stimulation of the IFG led to a modulation of the ambiguity effect (ambiguous–unambiguous) at the disambiguating sentence region in three measures: first fixation durations, total reading times, and regressive eye movements into the region. Both IFG and MTG stimulation modulated the ambiguity effect for total reading times in the temporarily ambiguous sentence region relative to a control group. The current results demonstrate that an offline repetitive TMS protocol can have influences at a different point in time during online processing and provide causal evidence for IFG involvement in unification operations during sentence comprehension.
  • Andics, A., McQueen, J. M., & Petersson, K. M. (2013). Mean-based neural coding of voices. NeuroImage, 79, 351-360. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.002.

    Abstract

    The social significance of recognizing the person who talks to us is obvious, but the neural mechanisms that mediate talker identification are unclear. Regions along the bilateral superior temporal sulcus (STS) and the inferior frontal cortex (IFC) of the human brain are selective for voices, and they are sensitive to rapid voice changes. Although it has been proposed that voice recognition is supported by prototype-centered voice representations, the involvement of these category-selective cortical regions in the neural coding of such "mean voices" has not previously been demonstrated. Using fMRI in combination with a voice identity learning paradigm, we show that voice-selective regions are involved in the mean-based coding of voice identities. Voice typicality is encoded on a supra-individual level in the right STS along a stimulus-dependent, identity-independent (i.e., voice-acoustic) dimension, and on an intra-individual level in the right IFC along a stimulus-independent, identity-dependent (i.e., voice identity) dimension. Voice recognition therefore entails at least two anatomically separable stages, each characterized by neural mechanisms that reference the central tendencies of voice categories.
  • Asaridou, S. S., & McQueen, J. M. (2013). Speech and music shape the listening brain: Evidence for shared domain-general mechanisms. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 321. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00321.

    Abstract

    Are there bi-directional influences between speech perception and music perception? An answer to this question is essential for understanding the extent to which the speech and music that we hear are processed by domain-general auditory processes and/or by distinct neural auditory mechanisms. This review summarizes a large body of behavioral and neuroscientific findings which suggest that the musical experience of trained musicians does modulate speech processing, and a sparser set of data, largely on pitch processing, which suggest in addition that linguistic experience, in particular learning a tone language, modulates music processing. Although research has focused mostly on music on speech effects, we argue that both directions of influence need to be studied, and conclude that the picture which thus emerges is one of mutual interaction across domains. In particular, it is not simply that experience with spoken language has some effects on music perception, and vice versa, but that because of shared domain-general subcortical and cortical networks, experiences in both domains influence behavior in both domains.
  • De Boer, M., Toni, I., & Willems, R. M. (2013). What drives successful verbal communication? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7: 622. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00622.

    Abstract

    There is a vast amount of potential mappings between behaviors and intentions in communication: a behavior can indicate a multitude of different intentions, and the same intention can be communicated with a variety of behaviors. Humans routinely solve these many-to-many referential problems when producing utterances for an Addressee. This ability might rely on social cognitive skills, for instance, the ability to manipulate unobservable summary variables to disambiguate ambiguous behavior of other agents (“mentalizing”) and the drive to invest resources into changing and understanding the mental state of other agents (“communicative motivation”). Alternatively, the ambiguities of verbal communicative interactions might be solved by general-purpose cognitive abilities that process cues that are incidentally associated with the communicative interaction. In this study, we assess these possibilities by testing which cognitive traits account for communicative success during a verbal referential task. Cognitive traits were assessed with psychometric scores quantifying motivation, mentalizing abilities, and general-purpose cognitive abilities, taxing abstract visuo-spatial abilities. Communicative abilities of participants were assessed by using an on-line interactive task that required a speaker to verbally convey a concept to an Addressee. The communicative success of the utterances was quantified by measuring how frequently a number of Evaluators would infer the correct concept. Speakers with high motivational and general-purpose cognitive abilities generated utterances that were more easily interpreted. These findings extend to the domain of verbal communication the notion that motivational and cognitive factors influence the human ability to rapidly converge on shared communicative innovations.
  • Campisi, E., & Ozyurek, A. (2013). Iconicity as a communicative strategy: Recipient design in multimodal demonstrations for adults and children. Journal of Pragmatics, 47, 14-27. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2012.12.007.

    Abstract

    Humans are the only species that uses communication to teach new knowledge to novices, usually to children (Tomasello, 1999 and Csibra and Gergely, 2006). This context of communication can employ “demonstrations” and it takes place with or without the help of objects (Clark, 1996). Previous research has focused on understanding the nature of demonstrations for very young children and with objects involved. However, little is known about the strategies used in demonstrating an action to an older child in comparison to another adult and without the use of objects, i.e., with gestures only. We tested if during demonstration of an action speakers use different degrees of iconicity in gestures for a child compared to an adult. 18 Italian subjects described to a camera how to make coffee imagining the listener as a 12-year-old child, a novice or an expert adult. While speech was found more informative both for the novice adult and for the child compared to the expert adult, the rate of iconic gestures increased and they were more informative and bigger only for the child compared to both of the adult conditions. Iconicity in gestures can be a powerful communicative strategy in teaching new knowledge to children in demonstrations and this is in line with claims that it can be used as a scaffolding device in grounding knowledge in experience (Perniss et al., 2010).
  • Cappuccio, M. L., Chu, M., & Kita, S. (2013). Pointing as an instrumental gesture: Gaze representation through indication. Humana.Mente: Journal of Philosophical Studies, 24, 125-149.

    Abstract

    We call those gestures “instrumental” that can enhance certain thinking processes of an agent by offering him representational models of his actions in a virtual space of imaginary performative possibilities. We argue that pointing is an instrumental gesture in that it represents geometrical information on one’s own gaze direction (i.e., a spatial model for attentional/ocular fixation/orientation), and provides a ritualized template for initiating gaze coordination and joint attention. We counter two possible objections, asserting respectively that the representational content of pointing is not constitutive, but derived from language, and that pointing directly solicits gaze coordination, without representing it. We consider two studies suggesting that attention and spatial perception are actively modified by one’s own pointing activity: the first study shows that pointing gestures help children link sets of objects to their corresponding number words; the second, that adults are faster and more accurate in counting when they point.
  • Cristia, A., Dupoux, E., Hakuno, Y., Lloyd-Fox, S., Schuetze, M., Kivits, J., Bergvelt, T., Van Gelder, M., Filippin, L., Charron, S., & Minagawa-Kawai, Y. (2013). An online database of infant functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy studies: A community-augmented systematic review. PLoS One, 8(3): e58906. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058906.

    Abstract

    Until recently, imaging the infant brain was very challenging. Functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a promising, relatively novel technique, whose use is rapidly expanding. As an emergent field, it is particularly important to share methodological knowledge to ensure replicable and robust results. In this paper, we present a community-augmented database which will facilitate precisely this exchange. We tabulated articles and theses reporting empirical fNIRS research carried out on infants below three years of age along several methodological variables. The resulting spreadsheet has been uploaded in a format allowing individuals to continue adding new results, and download the most recent version of the table. Thus, this database is ideal to carry out systematic reviews. We illustrate its academic utility by focusing on the factors affecting three key variables: infant attrition, the reliability of oxygenated and deoxygenated responses, and signal-to-noise ratios. We then discuss strengths and weaknesses of the DBIfNIRS, and conclude by suggesting a set of simple guidelines aimed to facilitate methodological convergence through the standardization of reports.
  • Cristia, A. (2013). Input to language: The phonetics of infant-directed speech. Language and Linguistics Compass, 7, 157-170. doi:10.1111/lnc3.12015.

    Abstract

    Over the first year of life, infant perception changes radically as the child learns the phonology of the ambient language from the speech she is exposed to. Since infant-directed speech attracts the child's attention more than other registers, it is necessary to describe that input in order to understand language development, and to address questions of learnability. In this review, evidence from corpora analyses, experimental studies, and observational paradigms is brought together to outline the first comprehensive empirical picture of infant-directed speech and its effects on language acquisition. The ensuing landscape suggests that infant-directed speech provides an emotionally and linguistically rich input to language acquisition

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  • Cristia, A., Mielke, J., Daland, R., & Peperkamp, S. (2013). Similarity in the generalization of implicitly learned sound patterns. Journal of Laboratory Phonology, 4(2), 259-285.

    Abstract

    A core property of language is the ability to generalize beyond observed examples. In two experiments, we explore how listeners generalize implicitly learned sound patterns to new nonwords and to new sounds, with the goal of shedding light on how similarity affects treatment of potential generalization targets. During the exposure phase, listeners heard nonwords whose onset consonant was restricted to a subset of a natural class (e.g., /d g v z Z/). During the test phase, listeners were presented with new nonwords and asked to judge how frequently they had been presented before; some of the test items began with a consonant from the exposure set (e.g., /d/), and some began with novel consonants with varying relations to the exposure set (e.g., /b/, which is highly similar to all onsets in the training set; /t/, which is highly similar to one of the training onsets; and /p/, which is less similar than the other two). The exposure onset was rated most frequent, indicating that participants encoded onset attestation in the exposure set, and generalized it to new nonwords. Participants also rated novel consonants as somewhat frequent, indicating generalization to onsets that did not occur in the exposure phase. While generalization could be accounted for in terms of featural distance, it was insensitive to natural class structure. Generalization to new sounds was predicted better by models requiring prior linguistic knowledge (either traditional distinctive features or articulatory phonetic information) than by a model based on a linguistically naïve measure of acoustic similarity.
  • Debreslioska, S., Ozyurek, A., Gullberg, M., & Perniss, P. M. (2013). Gestural viewpoint signals referent accessibility. Discourse Processes, 50(7), 431-456. doi:10.1080/0163853x.2013.824286.

    Abstract

    The tracking of entities in discourse is known to be a bimodal phenomenon. Speakers achieve cohesion in speech by alternating between full lexical forms, pronouns, and zero anaphora as they track referents. They also track referents in co-speech gestures. In this study, we explored how viewpoint is deployed in reference tracking, focusing on representations of animate entities in German narrative discourse. We found that gestural viewpoint systematically varies depending on discourse context. Speakers predominantly use character viewpoint in maintained contexts and observer viewpoint in reintroduced contexts. Thus, gestural viewpoint seems to function as a cohesive device in narrative discourse. The findings expand on and provide further evidence for the coordination between speech and gesture on the discourse level that is crucial to understanding the tight link between the two modalities.
  • Dolscheid, S., Shayan, S., Majid, A., & Casasanto, D. (2013). The thickness of musical pitch: Psychophysical evidence for linguistic relativity. Psychological Science, 24, 613-621. doi:10.1177/0956797612457374.

    Abstract

    Do people who speak different languages think differently, even when they are not using language? To find out, we used nonlinguistic psychophysical tasks to compare mental representations of musical pitch in native speakers of Dutch and Farsi. Dutch speakers describe pitches as high (hoog) or low (laag), whereas Farsi speakers describe pitches as thin (na-zok) or thick (koloft). Differences in language were reflected in differences in performance on two pitch-reproduction tasks, even though the tasks used simple, nonlinguistic stimuli and responses. To test whether experience using language influences mental representations of pitch, we trained native Dutch speakers to describe pitch in terms of thickness, as Farsi speakers do. After the training, Dutch speakers’ performance on a nonlinguistic psychophysical task resembled the performance of native Farsi speakers. People who use different linguistic space-pitch metaphors also think about pitch differently. Language can play a causal role in shaping nonlinguistic representations of musical pitch.

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  • Eisner, F., Melinger, A., & Weber, A. (2013). Constraints on the transfer of perceptual learning in accented speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 148. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00148.

    Abstract

    The perception of speech sounds can be re-tuned rapidly through a mechanism of lexically-driven learning (Norris et al 2003, Cogn.Psych. 47). Here we investigated this type of learning for English voiced stop consonants which are commonly de-voiced in word final position by Dutch learners of English . Specifically, this study asked under which conditions the change in pre-lexical representation encodes phonological information about the position of the critical sound within a word. After exposure to a Dutch learner’s productions of de-voiced stops in word-final position (but not in any other positions), British English listeners showed evidence of perceptual learning in a subsequent cross-modal priming task, where auditory primes with voiceless final stops (e.g., ‘seat’), facilitated recognition of visual targets with voiced final stops (e.g., SEED). This learning generalized to test pairs where the critical contrast was in word-initial position, e.g. auditory primes such as ‘town’ facilitated recognition of visual targets like DOWN (Experiment 1). Control listeners, who had not heard any stops by the speaker during exposure, showed no learning effects. The generalization to word-initial position did not occur when participants had also heard correctly voiced, word-initial stops during exposure (Experiment 2), and when the speaker was a native BE speaker who mimicked the word-final devoicing (Experiment 3). These results suggest that word position can be encoded in the pre-lexical adjustment to the accented phoneme contrast. Lexcially-guided feedback, distributional properties of the input, and long-term representations of accents all appear to modulate the pre-lexical re-tuning of phoneme categories.
  • Erb, J., Henry, M. J., Eisner, F., & Obleser, J. (2013). The brain dynamics of rapid perceptual adaptation to adverse listening conditions. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 10688-10697. doi:10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.4596-12.2013.

    Abstract

    Listeners show a remarkable ability to quickly adjust to degraded speech input. Here, we aimed to identify the neural mechanisms of such short-term perceptual adaptation. In a sparse-sampling, cardiac-gated functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) acquisition, human listeners heard and repeated back 4-band-vocoded sentences (in which the temporal envelope of the acoustic signal is preserved, while spectral information is highly degraded). Clear-speech trials were included as baseline. An additional fMRI experiment on amplitude modulation rate discrimination quantified the convergence of neural mechanisms that subserve coping with challenging listening conditions for speech and non-speech. First, the degraded speech task revealed an “executive” network (comprising the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex), parts of which were also activated in the non-speech discrimination task. Second, trial-by-trial fluctuations in successful comprehension of degraded speech drove hemodynamic signal change in classic “language” areas (bilateral temporal cortices). Third, as listeners perceptually adapted to degraded speech, downregulation in a cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuit was observable. The present data highlight differential upregulation and downregulation in auditory–language and executive networks, respectively, with important subcortical contributions when successfully adapting to a challenging listening situation.
  • Gentner, D., Ozyurek, A., Gurcanli, O., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2013). Spatial language facilitates spatial cognition: Evidence from children who lack language input. Cognition, 127, 318-330. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.01.003.

    Abstract

    Does spatial language influence how people think about space? To address this question, we observed children who did not know a conventional language, and tested their performance on nonlinguistic spatial tasks. We studied deaf children living in Istanbul whose hearing losses prevented them from acquiring speech and whose hearing parents had not exposed them to sign. Lacking a conventional language, the children used gestures, called homesigns, to communicate. In Study 1, we asked whether homesigners used gesture to convey spatial relations, and found that they did not. In Study 2, we tested a new group of homesigners on a Spatial Mapping Task, and found that they performed significantly worse than hearing Turkish children who were matched to the deaf children on another cognitive task. The absence of spatial language thus went hand-in-hand with poor performance on the nonlinguistic spatial task, pointing to the importance of spatial language in thinking about space.
  • Gross, J., Baillet, S., Barnes, G. R., Henson, R. N., Hillebrand, A., Jensen, O., Jerbi, K., Litvak, V., Maess, B., Oostenveld, R., Parkkonen, L., Taylor, J. R., Van Wassenhove, V., Wibral, M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2013). Good practice for conducting and reporting MEG research. NeuroImage, 65, 349-363. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.001.

    Abstract

    Magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recordings are a rich source of information about the neural dynamics underlying cognitive processes in the brain, with excellent temporal and good spatial resolution. In recent years there have been considerable advances in MEG hardware developments as well as methodological developments. Sophisticated analysis techniques are now routinely applied and continuously improved, leading to fascinating insights into the intricate dynamics of neural processes. However, the rapidly increasing level of complexity of the different steps in a MEG study make it difficult for novices, and sometimes even for experts, to stay aware of possible limitations and caveats. Furthermore, the complexity of MEG data acquisition and data analysis requires special attention when describing MEG studies in publications, in order to facilitate interpretation and reproduction of the results. This manuscript aims at making recommendations for a number of important data acquisition and data analysis steps and suggests details that should be specified in manuscripts reporting MEG studies. These recommendations will hopefully serve as guidelines that help to strengthen the position of the MEG research community within the field of neuroscience, and may foster discussion within the community in order to further enhance the quality and impact of MEG research.
  • Hagoort, P. (2013). MUC (Memory, Unification, Control) and beyond. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 416. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00416.

    Abstract

    A neurobiological model of language is discussed that overcomes the shortcomings of the classical Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model. It is based on a subdivision of language processing into three components: Memory, Unification, and Control. The functional components as well as the neurobiological underpinnings of the model are discussed. In addition, the need for extension of the model beyond the classical core regions for language is shown. Attentional networks as well as networks for inferential processing are crucial to realize language comprehension beyond single word processing and beyond decoding propositional content. It is shown that this requires the dynamic interaction between multiple brain regions.
  • Hagoort, P., & Meyer, A. S. (2013). What belongs together goes together: the speaker-hearer perspective. A commentary on MacDonald's PDC account. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 228. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00228.

    Abstract

    First paragraph: MacDonald (2013) proposes that distributional properties of language and processing biases in language comprehension can to a large extent be attributed to consequences of the language production process. In essence, the account is derived from the principle of least effort that was formulated by Zipf, among others (Zipf, 1949; Levelt, 2013). However, in Zipf's view the outcome of the least effort principle was a compromise between least effort for the speaker and least effort for the listener, whereas MacDonald puts most of the burden on the production process.
  • Holler, J., Turner, K., & Varcianna, T. (2013). It's on the tip of my fingers: Co-speech gestures during lexical retrieval in different social contexts. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28(10), 1509-1518. doi:10.1080/01690965.2012.698289.

    Abstract

    The Lexical Retrieval Hypothesis proposes that gestures function at the level of speech production, aiding in the retrieval of lexical items from the mental lexicon. However, empirical evidence for this account is mixed, and some critics argue that a more likely function of gestures during lexical retrieval is a communicative one. The present study was designed to test these predictions against each other by keeping lexical retrieval difficulty constant while varying social context. Participants' gestures were analysed during tip of the tongue experiences when communicating with a partner face-to-face (FTF), while being separated by a screen, or on their own by speaking into a voice recorder. The results show that participants in the FTF context produced significantly more representational gestures than participants in the solitary condition. This suggests that, even in the specific context of lexical retrieval difficulties, representational gestures appear to play predominantly a communicative role.

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  • Kaltwasser, L., Ries, S., Sommer, W., Knight, R., & Willems, R. M. (2013). Independence of valence and reward in emotional word processing: Electrophysiological evidence. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 168. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00168.

    Abstract

    Both emotion and reward are primary modulators of cognition: Emotional word content enhances word processing, and reward expectancy similarly amplifies cognitive processing from the perceptual up to the executive control level. Here, we investigate how these primary regulators of cognition interact. We studied how the anticipation of gain or loss modulates the neural time course (event-related potentials, ERPs) related to processing of emotional words. Participants performed a semantic categorization task on emotional and neutral words, which were preceded by a cue indicating that performance could lead to monetary gain or loss. Emotion-related and reward-related effects occurred in different time windows, did not interact statistically, and showed different topographies. This speaks for an independence of reward expectancy and the processing of emotional word content. Therefore, privileged processing given to emotionally valenced words seems immune to short-term modulation of reward. Models of language comprehension should be able to incorporate effects of reward and emotion on language processing, and the current study argues for an architecture in which reward and emotion do not share a common neurobiological mechanism
  • Kominsky, J. F., & Casasanto, D. (2013). Specific to whose body? Perspective taking and the spatial mapping of valence. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 266. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00266.

    Abstract

    People tend to associate the abstract concepts of “good” and “bad” with their fluent and disfluent sides of space, as determined by their natural handedness or by experimental manipulation (Casasanto, 2011). Here we investigated influences of spatial perspective taking on the spatialization of “good” and “bad.” In the first experiment, participants indicated where a schematically drawn cartoon character would locate “good” and “bad” stimuli. Right-handers tended to assign “good” to the right and “bad” to the left side of egocentric space when the character shared their spatial perspective, but when the character was rotated 180° this spatial mapping was reversed: good was assigned to the character’s right side, not the participant’s. The tendency to spatialize valence from the character’s perspective was stronger in the second experiment, when participants were shown a full-featured photograph of the character. In a third experiment, most participants not only spatialized “good” and “bad” from the character’s perspective, they also based their judgments on a salient attribute of the character’s body (an injured hand) rather than their own body. Taking another’s spatial perspective encourages people to compute space-valence mappings using an allocentric frame of reference, based on the fluency with which the other person could perform motor actions with their right or left hand. When people reason from their own spatial perspective, their judgments depend, in part, on the specifics of their bodies; when people reason from someone else’s perspective, their judgments may depend on the specifics of the other person’s body, instead. - See more at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00266
  • Kooijman, V., Junge, C., Johnson, E. K., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2013). Predictive brain signals of linguistic development. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 25. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00025.

    Abstract

    The ability to extract word forms from continuous speech is a prerequisite for constructing a vocabulary and emerges in the first year of life. Electrophysiological (ERP) studies of speech segmentation by 9- to 12-month-old listeners in several languages have found a left-localized negativity linked to word onset as a marker of word detection. We report an ERP study showing significant evidence of speech segmentation in Dutch-learning 7-month-olds. In contrast to the left-localized negative effect reported with older infants, the observed overall mean effect had a positive polarity. Inspection of individual results revealed two participant sub-groups: a majority showing a positive-going response, and a minority showing the left negativity observed in older age groups. We retested participants at age three, on vocabulary comprehension and word and sentence production. On every test, children who at 7 months had shown the negativity associated with segmentation of words from speech outperformed those who had produced positive-going brain responses to the same input. The earlier that infants show the left-localized brain responses typically indicating detection of words in speech, the better their early childhood language skills.
  • Kristensen, L. B., Wang, L., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2013). The interface between language and attention: Prosodic focus marking recruits a general attention network in spoken language comprehension. Cerebral Cortex, 23, 1836-1848. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs164.

    Abstract

    In spoken language, pitch accent can mark certain information as focus, whereby more attentional resources are allocated to the focused information. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, this study examined whether pitch accent, used for marking focus, recruited general attention networks during sentence comprehension. In a language task, we independently manipulated the prosody and semantic/pragmatic congruence of sentences. We found that semantic/pragmatic processing affected bilateral inferior and middle frontal gyrus. The prosody manipulation showed bilateral involvement of the superior/inferior parietal cortex, superior and middle temporal cortex, as well as inferior, middle, and posterior parts of the frontal cortex. We compared these regions with attention networks localized in an auditory spatial attention task. Both tasks activated bilateral superior/inferior parietal cortex, superior temporal cortex, and left precentral cortex. Furthermore, an interaction between prosody and congruence was observed in bilateral inferior parietal regions: for incongruent sentences, but not for congruent ones, there was a larger activation if the incongruent word carried a pitch accent, than if it did not. The common activations between the language task and the spatial attention task demonstrate that pitch accent activates a domain general attention network, which is sensitive to semantic/pragmatic aspects of language. Therefore, attention and language comprehension are highly interactive.

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  • Lai, V. T., & Curran, T. (2013). ERP evidence for conceptual mappings and comparison processes during the comprehension of conventional and novel metaphors. Brain and Language, 127(3), 484-496. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2013.09.010.

    Abstract

    Cognitive linguists suggest that understanding metaphors requires activation of conceptual mappings between the involved concepts. We tested whether mappings are indeed in use during metaphor comprehension, and what mapping means as a cognitive process with Event-Related Potentials. Participants read literal, conventional metaphorical, novel metaphorical, and anomalous target sentences preceded by primes with related or unrelated mappings. Experiment 1 used sentence-primes to activate related mappings, and Experiment 2 used simile-primes to induce comparison thinking. In the unprimed conditions of both experiments, metaphors elicited N400s more negative than the literals. In Experiment 1, related sentence-primes reduced the metaphor-literal N400 difference in conventional, but not in novel metaphors. In Experiment 2, related simile-primes reduced the metaphor-literal N400 difference in novel, but not clearly in conventional metaphors. We suggest that mapping as a process occurs in metaphors, and the ways in which it can be facilitated by comparison differ between conventional and novel metaphors.

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  • Lai, J., & Poletiek, F. H. (2013). How “small” is “starting small” for learning hierarchical centre-embedded structures? Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25, 423-435. doi:10.1080/20445911.2013.779247.

    Abstract

    Hierarchical centre-embedded structures pose a large difficulty for language learners due to their complexity. A recent artificial grammar learning study (Lai & Poletiek, 2011) demonstrated a starting-small (SS) effect, i.e., staged-input and sufficient exposure to 0-level-of-embedding exemplars were the critical conditions in learning AnBn structures. The current study aims to test: (1) a more sophisticated type of SS (a gradually rather than discretely growing input), and (2) the frequency distribution of the input. The results indicate that SS optimally works under other conditional cues, such as a skewed frequency distribution with simple stimuli being more numerous than complex ones.
  • Lai, V. T., & Boroditsky, L. (2013). The immediate and chronic influence of spatio-temporal metaphors on the mental representations of time in English, Mandarin, and Mandarin-English speakers. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 142. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00142.

    Abstract

    In this paper we examine whether experience with spatial metaphors for time has an influence on people’s representation of time. In particular we ask whether spatiotemporal metaphors can have both chronic and immediate effects on temporal thinking. In Study 1, we examine the prevalence of ego-moving representations for time in Mandarin speakers, English speakers, and Mandarin-English (ME) bilinguals. As predicted by observations in linguistic analyses, we find that Mandarin speakers are less likely to take an ego-moving perspective than are English speakers. Further, we find that ME bilinguals tested in English are less likely to take an ego-moving perspective than are English monolinguals (an effect of L1 on meaning-making in L2), and also that ME bilinguals tested in Mandarin are more likely to take an ego-moving perspective than are Mandarin monolinguals (an effect of L2 on meaning-making in L1). These findings demonstrate that habits of metaphor use in one language can influence temporal reasoning in another language, suggesting the metaphors can have a chronic effect on patterns in thought. In Study 2 we test Mandarin speakers using either horizontal or vertical metaphors in the immediate context of the task. We find that Mandarin speakers are more likely to construct front-back representations of time when understanding front-back metaphors, and more likely to construct up-down representations of time when understanding up-down metaphors. These findings demonstrate that spatiotemporal metaphors can also have an immediate influence on temporal reasoning. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the metaphors we use to talk about time have both immediate and long-term consequences for how we conceptualize and reason about this fundamental domain of experience.
  • Larson-Prior, L., Oostenveld, R., Della Penna, S., Michalareas, G., Prior, F., Babajani-Feremi, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Marzetti, L., de Pasquale, F., Pompeo, F. D., Stout, J., Woolrich, M., Luo, Q., Bucholz, R., Fries, P., Pizzella, V., Romani, G., Corbetta, M., & Snyder, A. (2013). Adding dynamics to the Human Connectome Project with MEG. NeuroImage, 80, 190-201. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.056.

    Abstract

    The Human Connectome Project (HCP) seeks to map the structural and functional connections between network elements in the human brain. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) provides a temporally rich source of information on brain network dynamics and represents one source of functional connectivity data to be provided by the HCP. High quality MEG data will be collected from 50 twin pairs both in the resting state and during performance of motor, working memory and language tasks. These data will be available to the general community. Additionally, using the cortical parcellation scheme common to all imaging modalities, the HCP will provide processing pipelines for calculating connection matrices as a function of time and frequency. Together with structural and functional data generated using magnetic resonance imaging methods, these data represent a unique opportunity to investigate brain network connectivity in a large cohort of normal adult human subjects. The analysis pipeline software and the dynamic connectivity matrices that it generates will all be made freely available to the research community.
  • Lüttjohann, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Van Luijtelaar, G. (2013). Peri-ictal network dynamics of spike-wave discharges: Phase and spectral characteristics. Experimental Neurology, 239, 235-247. doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2012.10.021.

    Abstract

    Purpose The brain is a highly interconnected neuronal assembly in which network analyses can greatly enlarge our knowledge on seizure generation. The cortico-thalamo-cortical network is the brain-network of interest in absence epilepsy. Here, network synchronization is assessed in a genetic absence model during 5 second long pre-ictal- > ictal transition periods. Method 16 male WAG/Rij rats were equipped with multiple electrodes targeting layer 4 to 6 of the somatosensory-cortex, rostral and caudal RTN, VPM, anterior-(ATN) and posterior (Po) thalamic nucleus. Local Field Potentials measured during pre-ictal- > ictal transition and during control periods were subjected to time-frequency and pairwise phase consistency analysis. Results Pre-ictally, all channels showed Spike-Wave Discharge (SWD) precursor activity (increases in spectral power), which were earliest and most pronounced in the somatosensory cortex. The caudal RTN decoupled from VPM, Po and cortical layer 4. Strong increases in synchrony were found between cortex and thalamus during SWD. Although increases between cortex and VPM were seen in SWD frequencies and its harmonics, boarder spectral increases (6-48 Hz) were seen between cortex and Po. All thalamic nuclei showed increased phase synchronization with Po but not with VPM. Conclusion Absence seizures are not sudden and unpredictable phenomena: the somatosensory cortex shows highest and earliest precursor activity. The pre-ictal decoupling of the caudal RTN might be a prerequisite of SWD generation. Po nucleus might be the primary thalamic counterpart to the somatosensory-cortex in the generation of the cortico-thalamic-cortical oscillations referred to as SWD.
  • Mazzone, M., & Campisi, E. (2013). Distributed intentionality: A model of intentional behavior in humans. Philosophical Psychology, 26, 267-290. doi:10.1080/09515089.2011.641743.

    Abstract

    Is human behavior, and more specifically linguistic behavior, intentional? Some scholars have proposed that action is driven in a top-down manner by one single intention—i.e.,one single conscious goal. Others have argued that actions are mostly non-intentional,insofar as often the single goal driving an action is not consciously represented. We intend to claim that both alternatives are unsatisfactory; more specifically, we claim that actions are intentional, but intentionality is distributed across complex goal-directed representations of action, rather than concentrated in single intentions driving action in a top-down manner. These complex representations encompass a multiplicity of goals, together with other components which are not goals themselves, and are the result of a largely automatic dynamic of activation; such an automatic processing, however, does not preclude the involvement of conscious attention, shifting from one component to the other of the overall goal-directed representation.

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  • Meyer, A. S., & Hagoort, P. (2013). What does it mean to predict one's own utterances? [Commentary on Pickering & Garrod]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 367-368. doi:10.1017/S0140525X12002786.

    Abstract

    Many authors have recently highlighted the importance of prediction for language comprehension. Pickering & Garrod (P&G) are the first to propose a central role for prediction in language production. This is an intriguing idea, but it is not clear what it means for speakers to predict their own utterances, and how prediction during production can be empirically distinguished from production proper.
  • Minagawa-Kawai, Y., Cristia, A., Long, B., Vendelin, I., Hakuno, Y., Dutat, M., Filippin, L., Cabrol, D., & Dupoux, E. (2013). Insights on NIRS sensitivity from a cross-linguistic study on the emergence of phonological grammar. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 170. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00170.

    Abstract

    Each language has a unique set of phonemic categories and phonotactic rules which determine permissible sound sequences in that language. Behavioral research demonstrates that one’s native language shapes the perception of both sound categories and sound sequences in adults, and neuroimaging results further indicate that the processing of native phonemes and phonotactics involves a left-dominant perisylvian brain network. Recent work using a novel technique, functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (NIRS), has suggested that a left-dominant network becomes evident toward the end of the first year of life as infants process phonemic contrasts. The present research project attempted to assess whether the same pattern would be seen for native phonotactics. We measured brain responses in Japanese- and French-learning infants to two contrasts: Abuna vs. Abna (a phonotactic contrast that is native in French, but not in Japanese) and Abuna vs. Abuuna (a vowel length contrast that is native in Japanese, but not in French). Results did not show a significant response to either contrast in either group, unlike both previous behavioral research on phonotactic processing and NIRS work on phonemic processing. To understand these null results, we performed similar NIRS experiments with Japanese adult participants. These data suggest that the infant null results arise from an interaction of multiple factors, involving the suitability of the experimental paradigm for NIRS measurements and stimulus perceptibility. We discuss the challenges facing this novel technique, particularly focusing on the optimal stimulus presentation which could yield strong enough hemodynamic responses when using the change detection paradigm.
  • Nieuwenhuis, I. L., Folia, V., Forkstam, C., Jensen, O., & Petersson, K. M. (2013). Sleep promotes the extraction of grammatical rules. PLoS One, 8(6): e65046. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065046.

    Abstract

    Grammar acquisition is a high level cognitive function that requires the extraction of complex rules. While it has been proposed that offline time might benefit this type of rule extraction, this remains to be tested. Here, we addressed this question using an artificial grammar learning paradigm. During a short-term memory cover task, eighty-one human participants were exposed to letter sequences generated according to an unknown artificial grammar. Following a time delay of 15 min, 12 h (wake or sleep) or 24 h, participants classified novel test sequences as Grammatical or Non-Grammatical. Previous behavioral and functional neuroimaging work has shown that classification can be guided by two distinct underlying processes: (1) the holistic abstraction of the underlying grammar rules and (2) the detection of sequence chunks that appear at varying frequencies during exposure. Here, we show that classification performance improved after sleep. Moreover, this improvement was due to an enhancement of rule abstraction, while the effect of chunk frequency was unaltered by sleep. These findings suggest that sleep plays a critical role in extracting complex structure from separate but related items during integrative memory processing. Our findings stress the importance of alternating periods of learning with sleep in settings in which complex information must be acquired.
  • Peeters, D., Dijkstra, T., & Grainger, J. (2013). The representation and processing of identical cognates by late bilinguals: RT and ERP effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 68, 315-332. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2012.12.003.

    Abstract

    Across the languages of a bilingual, translation equivalents can have the same orthographic form and shared meaning (e.g., TABLE in French and English). How such words, called orthographically identical cognates, are processed and represented in the bilingual brain is not well understood. In the present study, late French–English bilinguals processed such identical cognates and control words in an English lexical decision task. Both behavioral and electrophysiological data were collected. Reaction times to identical cognates were shorter than for non-cognate controls and depended on both English and French frequency. Cognates with a low English frequency showed a larger cognate advantage than those with a high English frequency. In addition, N400 amplitude was found to be sensitive to cognate status and both the English and French frequency of the cognate words. Theoretical consequences for the processing and representation of identical cognates are discussed.
  • Piai, V., Roelofs, A., Acheson, D. J., & Takashima, A. (2013). Attention for speaking: Neural substrates of general and specific mechanisms for monitoring and control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7: 832. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00832.

    Abstract

    Accumulating evidence suggests that some degree of attentional control is required to regulate and monitor processes underlying speaking. Although progress has been made in delineating the neural substrates of the core language processes involved in speaking, substrates associated with regulatory and monitoring processes have remained relatively underspecified. We report the results of an fMRI study examining the neural substrates related to performance in three attention-demanding tasks varying in the amount of linguistic processing: vocal picture naming while ignoring distractors (picture-word interference, PWI); vocal color naming while ignoring distractors (Stroop); and manual object discrimination while ignoring spatial position (Simon task). All three tasks had congruent and incongruent stimuli, while PWI and Stroop also had neutral stimuli. Analyses focusing on common activation across tasks identified a portion of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) that was active in incongruent trials for all three tasks, suggesting that this region subserves a domain-general attentional control function. In the language tasks, this area showed increased activity for incongruent relative to congruent stimuli, consistent with the involvement of domain-general mechanisms of attentional control in word production. The two language tasks also showed activity in anterior-superior temporal gyrus (STG). Activity increased for neutral PWI stimuli (picture and word did not share the same semantic category) relative to incongruent (categorically related) and congruent stimuli. This finding is consistent with the involvement of language-specific areas in word production, possibly related to retrieval of lexical-semantic information from memory. The current results thus suggest that in addition to engaging language-specific areas for core linguistic processes, speaking also engages the ACC, a region that is likely implementing domain-general attentional control.
  • Piai, V., Meyer, L., Schreuder, R., & Bastiaansen, M. C. M. (2013). Sit down and read on: Working memory and long-term memory in particle-verb processing. Brain and Language, 127(2), 296-306. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2013.09.015.

    Abstract

    Particle verbs (e.g., look up) are lexical items for which particle and verb share a single lexical entry. Using event-related brain potentials, we examined working memory and long-term memory involvement in particle-verb processing. Dutch participants read sentences with head verbs that allow zero, two, or more than five particles to occur downstream. Additionally, sentences were presented for which the encountered particle was semantically plausible, semantically implausible, or forming a non-existing particle verb. An anterior negativity was observed at the verbs that potentially allow for a particle downstream relative to verbs that do not, possibly indexing storage of the verb until the dependency with its particle can be closed. Moreover, a graded N400 was found at the particle (smallest amplitude for plausible particles and largest for particles forming non-existing particle verbs), suggesting that lexical access to a shared lexical entry occurred at two separate time points.
  • Rommers, J., Dijkstra, T., & Bastiaansen, M. C. M. (2013). Context-dependent semantic processing in the human brain: Evidence from idiom comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(5), 762-776. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00337.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension involves activating word meanings and integrating them with the sentence context. This study examined whether these routines are carried out even when they are theoretically unnecessary, namely in the case of opaque idiomatic expressions, for which the literal word meanings are unrelated to the overall meaning of the expression. Predictable words in sentences were replaced by a semantically related or unrelated word. In literal sentences, this yielded previously established behavioral and electrophysiological signatures of semantic processing: semantic facilitation in lexical decision, a reduced N400 for semantically related relative to unrelated words, and a power increase in the gamma frequency band that was disrupted by semantic violations. However, the same manipulations in idioms yielded none of these effects. Instead, semantic violations elicited a late positivity in idioms. Moreover, gamma band power was lower in correct idioms than in correct literal sentences. It is argued that the brain's semantic expectancy and literal word meaning integration operations can, to some extent, be “switched off” when the context renders them unnecessary. Furthermore, the results lend support to models of idiom comprehension that involve unitary idiom representations.
  • Segaert, K., Kempen, G., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2013). Syntactic priming and the lexical boost effect during sentence production and sentence comprehension: An fMRI study. Brain and Language, 124, 174-183. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2012.12.003.

    Abstract

    Behavioral syntactic priming effects during sentence comprehension are typically observed only if both the syntactic structure and lexical head are repeated. In contrast, during production syntactic priming occurs with structure repetition alone, but the effect is boosted by repetition of the lexical head. We used fMRI to investigate the neuronal correlates of syntactic priming and lexical boost effects during sentence production and comprehension. The critical measure was the magnitude of fMRI adaptation to repetition of sentences in active or passive voice, with or without verb repetition. In conditions with repeated verbs, we observed adaptation to structure repetition in the left IFG and MTG, for active and passive voice. However, in the absence of repeated verbs, adaptation occurred only for passive sentences. None of the fMRI adaptation effects yielded differential effects for production versus comprehension, suggesting that sentence comprehension and production are subserved by the same neuronal infrastructure for syntactic processing.

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    Segaert_Supplementary_data_2013.docx
  • Segaert, K., Weber, K., De Lange, F., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2013). The suppression of repetition enhancement: A review of fMRI studies. Neuropsychologia, 51, 59-66. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.11.006.

    Abstract

    Repetition suppression in fMRI studies is generally thought to underlie behavioural facilitation effects (i.e., priming) and it is often used to identify the neuronal representations associated with a stimulus. However, this pays little heed to the large number of repetition enhancement effects observed under similar conditions. In this review, we identify several cognitive variables biasing repetition effects in the BOLD response towards enhancement instead of suppression. These variables are stimulus recognition, learning, attention, expectation and explicit memory. We also evaluate which models can account for these repetition effects and come to the conclusion that there is no one single model that is able to embrace all repetition enhancement effects. Accumulation, novel network formation as well as predictive coding models can all explain subsets of repetition enhancement effects.
  • Stolk, A., Verhagen, L., Schoffelen, J.-M., Oostenveld, R., Blokpoel, M., Hagoort, P., van Rooij, I., & Tonia, I. (2013). Neural mechanisms of communicative innovation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(36), 14574-14579. doi:10.1073/pnas.1303170110.

    Abstract

    Human referential communication is often thought as coding-decoding a set of symbols, neglecting that establishing shared meanings requires a computational mechanism powerful enough to mutually negotiate them. Sharing the meaning of a novel symbol might rely on similar conceptual inferences across communicators or on statistical similarities in their sensorimotor behaviors. Using magnetoencephalography, we assess spectral, temporal, and spatial characteristics of neural activity evoked when people generate and understand novel shared symbols during live communicative interactions. Solving those communicative problems induced comparable changes in the spectral profile of neural activity of both communicators and addressees. This shared neuronal up-regulation was spatially localized to the right temporal lobe and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and emerged already before the occurrence of a specific communicative problem. Communicative innovation relies on neuronal computations that are shared across generating and understanding novel shared symbols, operating over temporal scales independent from transient sensorimotor behavior.
  • Stolk, A., Todorovic, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Oostenveld, R. (2013). Online and offline tools for head movement compensation in MEG. NeuroImage, 68, 39-48. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.11.047.

    Abstract

    Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is measured above the head, which makes it sensitive to variations of the head position with respect to the sensors. Head movements blur the topography of the neuronal sources of the MEG signal, increase localization errors, and reduce statistical sensitivity. Here we describe two novel and readily applicable methods that compensate for the detrimental effects of head motion on the statistical sensitivity of MEG experiments. First, we introduce an online procedure that continuously monitors head position. Second, we describe an offline analysis method that takes into account the head position time-series. We quantify the performance of these methods in the context of three different experimental settings, involving somatosensory, visual and auditory stimuli, assessing both individual and group-level statistics. The online head localization procedure allowed for optimal repositioning of the subjects over multiple sessions, resulting in a 28% reduction of the variance in dipole position and an improvement of up to 15% in statistical sensitivity. Offline incorporation of the head position time-series into the general linear model resulted in improvements of group-level statistical sensitivity between 15% and 29%. These tools can substantially reduce the influence of head movement within and between sessions, increasing the sensitivity of many cognitive neuroscience experiments.
  • Tsuji, S., & Cristia, A. (2013). Fifty years of infant vowel discrimination research: What have we learned? Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan, 17(3), 1-11.
  • Van Berkum, J. J. A., De Goede, D., Van Alphen, P. M., Mulder, E. R., & Kerstholt, J. H. (2013). How robust is the language architecture? The case of mood. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 505. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00505.

    Abstract

    In neurocognitive research on language, the processing principles of the system at hand are usually assumed to be relatively invariant. However, research on attention, memory, decision-making, and social judgment has shown that mood can substantially modulate how the brain processes information. For example, in a bad mood, people typically have a narrower focus of attention and rely less on heuristics. In the face of such pervasive mood effects elsewhere in the brain, it seems unlikely that language processing would remain untouched. In an EEG experiment, we manipulated the mood of participants just before they read texts that confirmed or disconfirmed verb-based expectations about who would be talked about next (e.g., that “David praised Linda because … ” would continue about Linda, not David), or that respected or violated a syntactic agreement rule (e.g., “The boys turns”). ERPs showed that mood had little effect on syntactic parsing, but did substantially affect referential anticipation: whereas readers anticipated information about a specific person when they were in a good mood, a bad mood completely abolished such anticipation. A behavioral follow-up experiment suggested that a bad mood did not interfere with verb-based expectations per se, but prevented readers from using that information rapidly enough to predict upcoming reference on the fly, as the sentence unfolds. In all, our results reveal that background mood, a rather unobtrusive affective state, selectively changes a crucial aspect of real-time language processing. This observation fits well with other observed interactions between language processing and affect (emotions, preferences, attitudes, mood), and more generally testifies to the importance of studying “cold” cognitive functions in relation to “hot” aspects of the brain.
  • Van Leeuwen, T. M., Hagoort, P., & Händel, B. F. (2013). Real color captures attention and overrides spatial cues in grapheme-color synesthetes but not in controls. Neuropsychologia, 51(10), 1802-1813. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.06.024.

    Abstract

    Grapheme-color synesthetes perceive color when reading letters or digits. We investigated oscillatory brain signals of synesthetes vs. controls using magnetoencephalography. Brain oscillations specifically in the alpha band (∼10 Hz) have two interesting features: alpha has been linked to inhibitory processes and can act as a marker for attention. The possible role of reduced inhibition as an underlying cause of synesthesia, as well as the precise role of attention in synesthesia is widely discussed. To assess alpha power effects due to synesthesia, synesthetes as well as matched controls viewed synesthesia-inducing graphemes, colored control graphemes, and non-colored control graphemes while brain activity was recorded. Subjects had to report a color change at the end of each trial which allowed us to assess the strength of synesthesia in each synesthete. Since color (synesthetic or real) might allocate attention we also included an attentional cue in our paradigm which could direct covert attention. In controls the attentional cue always caused a lateralization of alpha power with a contralateral decrease and ipsilateral alpha increase over occipital sensors. In synesthetes, however, the influence of the cue was overruled by color: independent of the attentional cue, alpha power decreased contralateral to the color (synesthetic or real). This indicates that in synesthetes color guides attention. This was confirmed by reaction time effects due to color, i.e. faster RTs for the color side independent of the cue. Finally, the stronger the observed color dependent alpha lateralization, the stronger was the manifestation of synesthesia as measured by congruency effects of synesthetic colors on RTs. Behavioral and imaging results indicate that color induces a location-specific, automatic shift of attention towards color in synesthetes but not in controls. We hypothesize that this mechanism can facilitate coupling of grapheme and color during the development of synesthesia.
  • Wagensveld, B., Van Alphen, P. M., Segers, E., Hagoort, P., & Verhoeven, L. (2013). The neural correlates of rhyme awareness in preliterate and literate children. Clinical Neurophysiology, 124, 1336-1345. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2013.01.022.

    Abstract

    Objective Most rhyme awareness assessments do not encompass measures of the global similarity effect (i.e., children who are able to perform simple rhyme judgments get confused when presented with globally similar non-rhyming pairs). The present study examines the neural nature of this effect by studying the N450 rhyme effect. Methods Behavioral and electrophysiological responses of Dutch pre-literate kindergartners and literate second graders were recorded while they made rhyme judgments of word pairs in three conditions; phonologically rhyming (e.g., wijn-pijn), overlapping non-rhyming (e.g., pen-pijn) and unrelated non-rhyming pairs (e.g., boom-pijn). Results Behaviorally, both groups had difficulty judging overlapping but not rhyming and unrelated pairs. The neural data of second graders showed overlapping pairs were processed in a similar fashion as unrelated pairs; both showed a more negative deflection of the N450 component than rhyming items. Kindergartners did not show a typical N450 rhyme effect. However, some other interesting ERP differences were observed, indicating preliterates are sensitive to rhyme at a certain level. Significance Rhyme judgments of globally similar items rely on the same process as rhyme judgments of rhyming and unrelated items. Therefore, incorporating a globally similar condition in rhyme assessments may lead to a more in-depth measure of early phonological awareness skills. Highlights Behavioral and electrophysiological responses were recorded while (pre)literate children made rhyme judgments of rhyming, overlapping and unrelated words. Behaviorally both groups had difficulty judging overlapping pairs as non-rhyming while overlapping and unrelated neural patterns were similar in literates. Preliterates show a different pattern indicating a developing phonological system.
  • Wagensveld, B., Segers, E., Van Alphen, P. M., & Verhoeven, L. (2013). The role of lexical representations and phonological overlap in rhyme judgments of beginning, intermediate and advanced readers. Learning and Individual Differences, 23, 64-71. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2012.09.007.

    Abstract

    Studies have shown that prereaders find globally similar non-rhyming pairs (i.e., bell–ball) difficult to judge. Although this effect has been explained as a result of ill-defined lexical representations, others have suggested that it is part of an innate tendency to respond to phonological overlap. In the present study we examined this effect over time. Beginning, intermediate and advanced readers were presented with a rhyme judgment task containing rhyming, phonologically similar, and unrelated non-rhyming pairs. To examine the role of lexical representations, participants were presented with both words and pseudowords. Outcomes showed that pseudoword processing was difficult for children but not for adults. The global similarity effect was present in both children and adults. The findings imply that holistic representations cannot explain the incapacity to ignore similarity relations during rhyming. Instead, the data provide more evidence for the idea that global similarity processing is part of a more fundamental innate phonological processing capacity.
  • Wang, L., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Yang, Y., & Hagoort, P. (2013). ERP evidence on the interaction between information structure and emotional salience of words. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 13, 297-310. doi:10.3758/s13415-012-0146-2.

    Abstract

    Both emotional words and words focused by information structure can capture attention. This study examined the interplay between emotional salience and information structure in modulating attentional resources in the service of integrating emotional words into sentence context. Event-related potentials (ERPs) to affectively negative, neutral, and positive words, which were either focused or nonfocused in question–answer pairs, were evaluated during sentence comprehension. The results revealed an early negative effect (90–200 ms), a P2 effect, as well as an effect in the N400 time window, for both emotional salience and information structure. Moreover, an interaction between emotional salience and information structure occurred within the N400 time window over right posterior electrodes, showing that information structure influences the semantic integration only for neutral words, but not for emotional words. This might reflect the fact that the linguistic salience of emotional words can override the effect of information structure on the integration of words into context. The interaction provides evidence for attention–emotion interactions at a later stage of processing. In addition, the absence of interaction in the early time window suggests that the processing of emotional information is highly automatic and independent of context. The results suggest independent attention capture systems of emotional salience and information structure at the early stage but an interaction between them at a later stage, during the semantic integration of words.
  • Wang, L., Zhu, Z., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Hagoort, P., & Yang, Y. (2013). Recognizing the emotional valence of names: An ERP study. Brain and Language, 125, 118-127. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2013.01.006.

    Abstract

    Unlike common nouns, person names refer to unique entities and generally have a referring function. We used event-related potentials to investigate the time course of identifying the emotional meaning of nouns and names. The emotional valence of names and nouns were manipulated separately. The results show early N1 effects in response to emotional valence only for nouns. This might reflect automatic attention directed towards emotional stimuli. The absence of such an effect for names supports the notion that the emotional meaning carried by names is accessed after word recognition and person identification. In addition, both names with negative valence and emotional nouns elicited late positive effects, which have been associated with evaluation of emotional significance. This positive effect started earlier for nouns than for names, but with similar durations. Our results suggest that distinct neural systems are involved in the retrieval of names’ and nouns’ emotional meaning.
  • Wang, L., & Chu, M. (2013). The role of beat gesture and pitch accent in semantic processing: An ERP study. Neuropsychologia, 51(13), 2847-2855. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.09.027.

    Abstract

    The present study investigated whether and how beat gesture (small baton-like hand movements used to emphasize information in speech) influences semantic processing as well as its interaction with pitch accent during speech comprehension. Event-related potentials were recorded as participants watched videos of a person gesturing and speaking simultaneously. The critical words in the spoken sentences were accompanied by a beat gesture, a control hand movement, or no hand movement, and were expressed either with or without pitch accent. We found that both beat gesture and control hand movement induced smaller negativities in the N400 time window than when no hand movement was presented. The reduced N400s indicate that both beat gesture and control movement facilitated the semantic integration of the critical word into the sentence context. In addition, the words accompanied by beat gesture elicited smaller negativities in the N400 time window than those accompanied by control hand movement over right posterior electrodes, suggesting that beat gesture has a unique role for enhancing semantic processing during speech comprehension. Finally, no interaction was observed between beat gesture and pitch accent, indicating that they affect semantic processing independently.
  • Whitmarsh, S., Udden, J., Barendregt, H., & Petersson, K. M. (2013). Mindfulness reduces habitual responding based on implicit knowledge: Evidence from artificial grammar learning. Consciousness and Cognition, (3), 833-845. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2013.05.007.

    Abstract

    Participants were unknowingly exposed to complex regularities in a working memory task. The existence of implicit knowledge was subsequently inferred from a preference for stimuli with similar grammatical regularities. Several affective traits have been shown to influence AGL performance positively, many of which are related to a tendency for automatic responding. We therefore tested whether the mindfulness trait predicted a reduction of grammatically congruent preferences, and used emotional primes to explore the influence of affect. Mindfulness was shown to correlate negatively with grammatically congruent responses. Negative primes were shown to result in faster and more negative evaluations. We conclude that grammatically congruent preference ratings rely on habitual responses, and that our findings provide empirical evidence for the non-reactive disposition of the mindfulness trait.
  • Willems, R. M. (2013). Can literary studies contribute to cognitive neuroscience? Journal of literary semantics, 42(2), 217-222. doi:10.1515/jls-2013-0011.
  • Adank, P., Hagoort, P., & Bekkering, H. (2010). Imitation improves language comprehension. Psychological Science, 21, 1903-1909. doi:10.1177/0956797610389192.

    Abstract

    Humans imitate each other during social interaction. This imitative behavior streamlines social interaction and aids in learning to replicate actions. However, the effect of imitation on action comprehension is unclear. This study investigated whether vocal imitation of an unfamiliar accent improved spoken-language comprehension. Following a pretraining accent comprehension test, participants were assigned to one of six groups. The baseline group received no training, but participants in the other five groups listened to accented sentences, listened to and repeated accented sentences in their own accent, listened to and transcribed accented sentences, listened to and imitated accented sentences, or listened to and imitated accented sentences without being able to hear their own vocalizations. Posttraining measures showed that accent comprehension was most improved for participants who imitated the speaker’s accent. These results show that imitation may aid in streamlining interaction by improving spoken-language comprehension under adverse listening conditions.
  • Andics, A., McQueen, J. M., Petersson, K. M., Gál, V., Rudas, G., & Vidnyánszky, Z. (2010). Neural mechanisms for voice recognition. NeuroImage, 52, 1528-1540. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.05.048.

    Abstract

    We investigated neural mechanisms that support voice recognition in a training paradigm with fMRI. The same listeners were trained on different weeks to categorize the mid-regions of voice-morph continua as an individual's voice. Stimuli implicitly defined a voice-acoustics space, and training explicitly defined a voice-identity space. The predefined centre of the voice category was shifted from the acoustic centre each week in opposite directions, so the same stimuli had different training histories on different tests. Cortical sensitivity to voice similarity appeared over different time-scales and at different representational stages. First, there were short-term adaptation effects: Increasing acoustic similarity to the directly preceding stimulus led to haemodynamic response reduction in the middle/posterior STS and in right ventrolateral prefrontal regions. Second, there were longer-term effects: Response reduction was found in the orbital/insular cortex for stimuli that were most versus least similar to the acoustic mean of all preceding stimuli, and, in the anterior temporal pole, the deep posterior STS and the amygdala, for stimuli that were most versus least similar to the trained voice-identity category mean. These findings are interpreted as effects of neural sharpening of long-term stored typical acoustic and category-internal values. The analyses also reveal anatomically separable voice representations: one in a voice-acoustics space and one in a voice-identity space. Voice-identity representations flexibly followed the trained identity shift, and listeners with a greater identity effect were more accurate at recognizing familiar voices. Voice recognition is thus supported by neural voice spaces that are organized around flexible ‘mean voice’ representations.
  • Araújo, S., Pacheco, A., Faísca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2010). Visual rapid naming and phonological abilities: Different subtypes in dyslexic children. International Journal of Psychology, 45, 443-452. doi:10.1080/00207594.2010.499949.

    Abstract

    One implication of the double-deficit hypothesis for dyslexia is that there should be subtypes of dyslexic readers that exhibit rapid naming deficits with or without concomitant phonological processing problems. In the current study, we investigated the validity of this hypothesis for Portuguese orthography, which is more consistent than English orthography, by exploring different cognitive profiles in a sample of dyslexic children. In particular, we were interested in identifying readers characterized by a pure rapid automatized naming deficit. We also examined whether rapid naming and phonological awareness independently account for individual differences in reading performance. We characterized the performance of dyslexic readers and a control group of normal readers matched for age on reading, visual rapid naming and phonological processing tasks. Our results suggest that there is a subgroup of dyslexic readers with intact phonological processing capacity (in terms of both accuracy and speed measures) but poor rapid naming skills. We also provide evidence for an independent association between rapid naming and reading competence in the dyslexic sample, when the effect of phonological skills was controlled. Altogether, the results are more consistent with the view that rapid naming problems in dyslexia represent a second core deficit rather than an exclusive phonological explanation for the rapid naming deficits. Furthermore, additional non-phonological processes, which subserve rapid naming performance, contribute independently to reading development.
  • Baggio, G., Choma, T., Van Lambalgen, M., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Coercion and compositionality. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 2131-2140. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21303.

    Abstract

    Research in psycholinguistics and in the cognitive neuroscience of language has suggested that semantic and syntactic integration are associated with different neurophysiologic correlates, such as the N400 and the P600 in the ERPs. However, only a handful of studies have investigated the neural basis of the syntax–semantics interface, and even fewer experiments have dealt with the cases in which semantic composition can proceed independently of the syntax. Here we looked into one such case—complement coercion—using ERPs. We compared sentences such as, “The journalist wrote the article” with “The journalist began the article.” The second sentence seems to involve a silent semantic element, which is expressed in the first sentence by the head of the VP “wrote the article.” The second type of construction may therefore require the reader to infer or recover from memory a richer event sense of the VP “began the article,” such as began writing the article, and to integrate that into a semantic representation of the sentence. This operation is referred to as “complement coercion.” Consistently with earlier reading time, eye tracking, and MEG studies, we found traces of such additional computations in the ERPs: Coercion gives rise to a long-lasting negative shift, which differs at least in duration from a standard N400 effect. Issues regarding the nature of the computation involved are discussed in the light of a neurocognitive model of language processing and a formal semantic analysis of coercion.
  • Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Magyari, L., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Syntactic unification operations are reflected in oscillatory dynamics during on-line sentence comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 1333-1347. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21283.

    Abstract

    There is growing evidence suggesting that synchronization changes in the oscillatory neuronal dynamics in the EEG or MEG reflect the transient coupling and uncoupling of functional networks related to different aspects of language comprehension. In this work, we examine how sentence-level syntactic unification operations are reflected in the oscillatory dynamics of the MEG. Participants read sentences that were either correct, contained a word category violation, or were constituted of random word sequences devoid of syntactic structure. A time-frequency analysis of MEG power changes revealed three types of effects. The first type of effect was related to the detection of a (word category) violation in a syntactically structured sentence, and was found in the alpha and gamma frequency bands. A second type of effect was maximally sensitive to the syntactic manipulations: A linear increase in beta power across the sentence was present for correct sentences, was disrupted upon the occurrence of a word category violation, and was absent in syntactically unstructured random word sequences. We therefore relate this effect to syntactic unification operations. Thirdly, we observed a linear increase in theta power across the sentence for all syntactically structured sentences. The effects are tentatively related to the building of a working memory trace of the linguistic input. In conclusion, the data seem to suggest that syntactic unification is reflected by neuronal synchronization in the lower-beta frequency band.
  • Bramão, I., Faísca, L., Forkstam, C., Reis, A., & Petersson, K. M. (2010). Cortical brain regions associated with color processing: An FMRI study. The Open Neuroimaging Journal, 4, 164-173. doi:10.2174/1874440001004010164.

    Abstract

    To clarify whether the neural pathways concerning color processing are the same for natural objects, for artifacts objects and for non-sense objects we examined functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) responses during a covert naming task including the factors color (color vs. black&white (B&W)) and stimulus type (natural vs. artifacts vs. non-sense objects). Our results indicate that the superior parietal lobule and precuneus (BA 7) bilaterally, the right hippocampus and the right fusifom gyrus (V4) make part of a network responsible for color processing both for natural and artifacts objects, but not for non-sense objects. The recognition of non-sense colored objects compared to the recognition of color objects activated the posterior cingulate/precuneus (BA 7/23/31), suggesting that color attribute induces the mental operation of trying to associate a non-sense composition with a familiar objects. When color objects (both natural and artifacts) were contrasted with color nonobjects we observed activations in the right parahippocampal gyrus (BA 35/36), the superior parietal lobule (BA 7) bilaterally, the left inferior middle temporal region (BA 20/21) and the inferior and superior frontal regions (BA 10/11/47). These additional activations suggest that colored objects recruit brain regions that are related to visual semantic information/retrieval and brain regions related to visuo-spatial processing. Overall, the results suggest that color information is an attribute that improve object recognition (based on behavioral results) and activate a specific neural network related to visual semantic information that is more extensive than for B&W objects during object recognition
  • Bramão, I., Faísca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2010). The influence of surface color information and color knowledge information in object recognition. American Journal of Psychology, 123, 437-466. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/amerjpsyc.123.4.0437.

    Abstract

    In order to clarify whether the influence of color knowledge information in object recognition depends on the presence of the appropriate surface color, we designed a name—object verification task. The relationship between color and shape information provided by the name and by the object photo was manipulated in order to assess color interference independently of shape interference. We tested three different versions for each object: typically colored, black and white, and nontypically colored. The response times on the nonmatching trials were used to measure the interference between the name and the photo. We predicted that the more similar the name and the photo are, the longer it would take to respond. Overall, the color similarity effect disappeared in the black-and-white and nontypical color conditions, suggesting that the influence of color knowledge on object recognition depends on the presence of the appropriate surface color information.
  • Casasanto, D., & Jasmin, K. (2010). Good and bad in the hands of politicians: Spontaneous gestures during positive and negative speech. PLoS ONE, 5(7), E11805. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011805.

    Abstract

    According to the body-specificity hypothesis, people with different bodily characteristics should form correspondingly different mental representations, even in highly abstract conceptual domains. In a previous test of this proposal, right- and left-handers were found to associate positive ideas like intelligence, attractiveness, and honesty with their dominant side and negative ideas with their non-dominant side. The goal of the present study was to determine whether ‘body-specific’ associations of space and valence can be observed beyond the laboratory in spontaneous behavior, and whether these implicit associations have visible consequences.
  • Casasanto, D., & Dijkstra, K. (2010). Motor action and emotional memory. Cognition, 115, 179-185. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2009.11.002.

    Abstract

    Can simple motor actions affect how efficiently people retrieve emotional memories, and influence what they choose to remember? In Experiment 1, participants were prompted to retell autobiographical memories with either positive or negative valence, while moving marbles either upward or downward. They retrieved memories faster when the direction of movement was congruent with the valence of the memory (upward for positive, downward for negative memories). Given neutral-valence prompts in Experiment 2, participants retrieved more positive memories when instructed to move marbles up, and more negative memories when instructed to move them down, demonstrating a causal link from motion to emotion. Results suggest that positive and negative life experiences are implicitly associated with schematic representations of upward and downward motion, consistent with theories of metaphorical mental representation. Beyond influencing the efficiency of memory retrieval, the direction of irrelevant, repetitive motor actions can also partly determine the emotional content of the memories people retrieve: moving marbles upward (an ostensibly meaningless action) can cause people to think more positive thoughts.
  • Casasanto, D., Fotakopoulou, O., & Boroditsky, L. (2010). Space and time in the child's mind: Evidence for a cross-dimensional asymmetry. Cognitive Science, 34, 387 -405. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2010.01094.x.

    Abstract

    What is the relationship between space and time in the human mind? Studies in adults show an asymmetric relationship between mental representations of these basic dimensions of experience: Representations of time depend on space more than representations of space depend on time. Here we investigated the relationship between space and time in the developing mind. Native Greek-speaking children watched movies of two animals traveling along parallel paths for different distances or durations and judged the spatial and temporal aspects of these events (e.g., Which animal went for a longer distance, or a longer time?). Results showed a reliable cross-dimensional asymmetry. For the same stimuli, spatial information influenced temporal judgments more than temporal information influenced spatial judgments. This pattern was robust to variations in the age of the participants and the type of linguistic framing used to elicit responses. This finding demonstrates a continuity between space-time representations in children and adults, and informs theories of analog magnitude representation.
  • Folia, V., Uddén, J., De Vries, M., Forkstam, C., & Petersson, K. M. (2010). Artificial language learning in adults and children. Language learning, 60(s2), 188-220. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2010.00606.x.

    Abstract

    This article briefly reviews some recent work on artificial language learning in children and adults. The final part of the article is devoted to a theoretical formulation of the language learning problem from a mechanistic neurobiological viewpoint and we show that it is logically possible to combine the notion of innate language constraints with, for example, the notion of domain general learning mechanisms. A growing body of empirical evidence suggests that the mechanisms involved in artificial language learning and in structured sequence processing are shared with those of natural language acquisition and natural language processing. Finally, by theoretically analyzing a formal learning model, we highlight Fodor’s insight that it is logically possible to combine innate, domain-specific constraints with domain-general learning mechanisms.
  • Fournier, R., Gussenhoven, C., Jensen, O., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Lateralization of tonal and intonational pitch processing: An MEG study. Brain Research, 1328, 79-88. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2010.02.053.

    Abstract

    An MEG experiment was carried out in order to compare the processing of lexical-tonal and intonational contrasts, based on the tonal dialect of Roermond (the Netherlands). A set of words with identical phoneme sequences but distinct pitch contours, which represented different lexical meanings or discourse meanings (statement vs. question), were presented to native speakers as well as to a control group of speakers of Standard Dutch, a non-tone language. The stimuli were arranged in a mismatch paradigm, under three experimental conditions: in the first condition (lexical), the pitch contour differences between standard and deviant stimuli reflected differences between lexical meanings; in the second condition (intonational), the stimuli differed in their discourse meaning; in the third condition (combined), they differed both in their lexical and discourse meaning. In all three conditions, native as well as non-native responses showed a clear MMNm (magnetic mismatch negativity) in a time window from 150 to 250 ms after the divergence point of standard and deviant pitch contours. In the lexical condition, a stronger response was found over the left temporal cortex of native as well as non-native speakers. In the intonational condition, the same activation pattern was observed in the control group, but not in the group of native speakers, who showed a right-hemisphere dominance instead. Finally, in the combined (lexical and intonational) condition, brain reactions appeared to represent the summation of the patterns found in the other two conditions. In sum, the lateralization of pitch processing is condition-dependent in the native group only, which suggests that language experience determines how processes should be distributed over both temporal cortices, according to the functions available in the grammar.
  • Groen, W. B., Tesink, C. M. J. Y., Petersson, K. M., Van Berkum, J. J. A., Van der Gaag, R. J., Hagoort, P., & Buitelaar, J. K. (2010). Semantic, factual, and social language comprehension in adolescents with autism: An fMRI study. Cerebral Cortex, 20(8), 1937-1945. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhp264.

    Abstract

    Language in high-functioning autism is characterized by pragmatic and semantic deficits, and people with autism have a reduced tendency to integrate information. Because the left and right inferior frontal (LIF and RIF) regions are implicated with integration of speaker information, world knowledge, and semantic knowledge, we hypothesized that abnormal functioning of the LIF and RIF regions might contribute to pragmatic and semantic language deficits in autism. Brain activation of sixteen 12- to 18-year-old, high-functioning autistic participants was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging during sentence comprehension and compared with that of twenty-six matched controls. The content of the pragmatic sentence was congruent or incongruent with respect to the speaker characteristics (male/female, child/adult, and upper class/lower class). The semantic- and world-knowledge sentences were congruent or incongruent with respect to semantic expectancies and factual expectancies about the world, respectively. In the semanticknowledge and world-knowledge condition, activation of the LIF region did not differ between groups. In sentences that required integration of speaker information, the autism group showed abnormally reduced activation of the LIF region. The results suggest that people with autism may recruit the LIF region in a different manner in tasks that demand integration of social information.
  • Kelly, S. D., Ozyurek, A., & Maris, E. (2010). Two sides of the same coin: Speech and gesture mutually interact to enhance comprehension. Psychological Science, 21, 260-267. doi:10.1177/0956797609357327.

    Abstract

    Gesture and speech are assumed to form an integrated system during language production. Based on this view, we propose the integrated‐systems hypothesis, which explains two ways in which gesture and speech are integrated—through mutual and obligatory interactions—in language comprehension. Experiment 1 presented participants with action primes (e.g., someone chopping vegetables) and bimodal speech and gesture targets. Participants related primes to targets more quickly and accurately when they contained congruent information (speech: “chop”; gesture: chop) than when they contained incongruent information (speech: “chop”; gesture: twist). Moreover, the strength of the incongruence affected processing, with fewer errors for weak incongruities (speech: “chop”; gesture: cut) than for strong incongruities (speech: “chop”; gesture: twist). Crucial for the integrated‐systems hypothesis, this influence was bidirectional. Experiment 2 demonstrated that gesture’s influence on speech was obligatory. The results confirm the integrated‐systems hypothesis and demonstrate that gesture and speech form an integrated system in language comprehension.
  • Kos, M., Vosse, T. G., Van den Brink, D., & Hagoort, P. (2010). About edible restaurants: Conflicts between syntax and semantics as revealed by ERPs. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, E222. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00222.

    Abstract

    In order to investigate conflicts between semantics and syntax, we recorded ERPs, while participants read Dutch sentences. Sentences containing conflicts between syntax and semantics (Fred eats in a sandwich…/ Fred eats a restaurant…) elicited an N400. These results show that conflicts between syntax and semantics not necessarily lead to P600 effects and are in line with the processing competition account. According to this parallel account the syntactic and semantic processing streams are fully interactive and information from one level can influence the processing at another level. The relative strength of the cues of the processing streams determines which level is affected most strongly by the conflict. The processing competition account maintains the distinction between the N400 as index for semantic processing and the P600 as index for structural processing.
  • Ladd, D. R., & Dediu, D. (2010). Reply to Järvikivi et al. (2010) [Web log message]. Plos One. Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/comments/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0012603.
  • Maguire, W., McMahon, A., Heggarty, P., & Dediu, D. (2010). The past, present, and future of English dialects: Quantifying convergence, divergence, and dynamic equilibrium. Language Variation and Change, 22, 69-104. doi:10.1017/S0954394510000013.

    Abstract

    This article reports on research which seeks to compare and measure the similarities between phonetic transcriptions in the analysis of relationships between varieties of English. It addresses the question of whether these varieties have been converging, diverging, or maintaining equilibrium as a result of endogenous and exogenous phonetic and phonological changes. We argue that it is only possible to identify such patterns of change by the simultaneous comparison of a wide range of varieties of a language across a data set that has not been specifically selected to highlight those changes that are believed to be important. Our analysis suggests that although there has been an obvious reduction in regional variation with the loss of traditional dialects of English and Scots, there has not been any significant convergence (or divergence) of regional accents of English in recent decades, despite the rapid spread of a number of features such as TH-fronting.
  • Merritt, D. J., Casasanto, D., & Brannon, E. M. (2010). Do monkeys think in metaphors? Representations of space and time in monkeys and humans. Cognition, 117, 191-202. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.08.011.

    Abstract

    Research on the relationship between the representation of space and time has produced two contrasting proposals. ATOM posits that space and time are represented via a common magnitude system, suggesting a symmetrical relationship between space and time. According to metaphor theory, however, representations of time depend on representations of space asymmetrically. Previous findings in humans have supported metaphor theory. Here, we investigate the relationship between time and space in a nonverbal species, by testing whether non-human primates show space–time interactions consistent with metaphor theory or with ATOM. We tested two rhesus monkeys and 16 adult humans in a nonverbal task that assessed the influence of an irrelevant dimension (time or space) on a relevant dimension (space or time). In humans, spatial extent had a large effect on time judgments whereas time had a small effect on spatial judgments. In monkeys, both spatial and temporal manipulations showed large bi-directional effects on judgments. In contrast to humans, spatial manipulations in monkeys did not produce a larger effect on temporal judgments than the reverse. Thus, consistent with previous findings, human adults showed asymmetrical space–time interactions that were predicted by metaphor theory. In contrast, monkeys showed patterns that were more consistent with ATOM.
  • Meulenbroek, O., Kessels, R. P. C., De Rover, M., Petersson, K. M., Olde Rikkert, M. G. M., Rijpkema, M., & Fernández, G. (2010). Age-effects on associative object-location memory. Brain Research, 1315, 100-110. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2009.12.011.

    Abstract

    Aging is accompanied by an impairment of associative memory. The medial temporal lobe and fronto-striatal network, both involved in associative memory, are known to decline functionally and structurally with age, leading to the so-called associative binding deficit and the resource deficit. Because the MTL and fronto-striatal network interact, they might also be able to support each other. We therefore employed an episodic memory task probing memory for sequences of object–location associations, where the demand on self-initiated processing was manipulated during encoding: either all the objects were visible simultaneously (rich environmental support) or every object became visible transiently (poor environmental support). Following the concept of resource deficit, we hypothesised that the elderly probably have difficulty using their declarative memory system when demands on self-initiated processing are high (poor environmental support). Our behavioural study showed that only the young use the rich environmental support in a systematic way, by placing the objects next to each other. With the task adapted for fMRI, we found that elderly showed stronger activity than young subjects during retrieval of environmentally richly encoded information in the basal ganglia, thalamus, left middle temporal/fusiform gyrus and right medial temporal lobe (MTL). These results indicate that rich environmental support leads to recruitment of the declarative memory system in addition to the fronto-striatal network in elderly, while the young use more posterior brain regions likely related to imagery. We propose that elderly try to solve the task by additional recruitment of stimulus-response associations, which might partly compensate their limited attentional resources.
  • Noordzij, M. L., Newman-Norlund, S. E., De Ruiter, J. P., Hagoort, P., Levinson, S. C., & Toni, I. (2010). Neural correlates of intentional communication. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 4, E188. doi:10.3389/fnins.2010.00188.

    Abstract

    We know a great deal about the neurophysiological mechanisms supporting instrumental actions, i.e. actions designed to alter the physical state of the environment. In contrast, little is known about our ability to select communicative actions, i.e. actions directly designed to modify the mental state of another agent. We have recently provided novel empirical evidence for a mechanism in which a communicator selects his actions on the basis of a prediction of the communicative intentions that an addressee is most likely to attribute to those actions. The main novelty of those finding was that this prediction of intention recognition is cerebrally implemented within the intention recognition system of the communicator, is modulated by the ambiguity in meaning of the communicative acts, and not by their sensorimotor complexity. The characteristics of this predictive mechanism support the notion that human communicative abilities are distinct from both sensorimotor and linguistic processes.
  • Ozyurek, A., Zwitserlood, I., & Perniss, P. M. (2010). Locative expressions in signed languages: A view from Turkish Sign Language (TID). Linguistics, 48(5), 1111-1145. doi:10.1515/LING.2010.036.

    Abstract

    Locative expressions encode the spatial relationship between two (or more) entities. In this paper, we focus on locative expressions in signed language, which use the visual-spatial modality for linguistic expression, specifically in Turkish Sign Language ( Türk İşaret Dili, henceforth TİD). We show that TİD uses various strategies in discourse to encode the relation between a Ground entity (i.e., a bigger and/or backgrounded entity) and a Figure entity (i.e., a smaller entity, which is in the focus of attention). Some of these strategies exploit affordances of the visual modality for analogue representation and support evidence for modality-specific effects on locative expressions in sign languages. However, other modality-specific strategies, e.g., the simultaneous expression of Figure and Ground, which have been reported for many other sign languages, occurs only sparsely in TİD. Furthermore, TİD uses categorical as well as analogical structures in locative expressions. On the basis of these findings, we discuss differences and similarities between signed and spoken languages to broaden our understanding of the range of structures used in natural language (i.e., in both the visual-spatial or oral-aural modalities) to encode locative relations. A general linguistic theory of spatial relations, and specifically of locative expressions, must take all structures that might arise in both modalities into account before it can generalize over the human language faculty.
  • Petrovic, P., Kalso, E., Petersson, K. M., Andersson, J., Fransson, P., & Ingvar, M. (2010). A prefrontal non-opioid mechanism in placebo analgesia. Pain, 150, 59-65. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2010.03.011.

    Abstract

    ehavioral studies have suggested that placebo analgesia is partly mediated by the endogenous opioid system. Expanding on these results we have shown that the opioid-receptor-rich rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) is activated in both placebo and opioid analgesia. However, there are also differences between the two treatments. While opioids have direct pharmacological effects, acting on the descending pain inhibitory system, placebo analgesia depends on neocortical top-down mechanisms. An important difference may be that expectations are met to a lesser extent in placebo treatment as compared with a specific treatment, yielding a larger error signal. As these processes previously have been shown to influence other types of perceptual experiences, we hypothesized that they also may drive placebo analgesia. Imaging studies suggest that lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lObfc) and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) are involved in processing expectation and error signals. We re-analyzed two independent functional imaging experiments related to placebo analgesia and emotional placebo to probe for a differential processing in these regions during placebo treatment vs. opioid treatment and to test if this activity is associated with the placebo response. In the first dataset lObfc and vlPFC showed an enhanced activation in placebo analgesia vs. opioid analgesia. Furthermore, the rACC activity co-varied with the prefrontal regions in the placebo condition specifically. A similar correlation between rACC and vlPFC was reproduced in another dataset involving emotional placebo and correlated with the degree of the placebo effect. Our results thus support that placebo is different from specific treatment with a prefrontal top-down influence on rACC.
  • Pijnacker, J., Geurts, B., Van Lambalgen, M., Buitelaar, J., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Exceptions and anomalies: An ERP study on context sensitivity in autism. Neuropsychologia, 48, 2940-2951. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.06.003.

    Abstract

    Several studies have demonstrated that people with ASD and intact language skills still have problems processing linguistic information in context. Given this evidence for reduced sensitivity to linguistic context, the question arises how contextual information is actually processed by people with ASD. In this study, we used event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to examine context sensitivity in high-functioning adults with autistic disorder (HFA) and Asperger syndrome at two levels: at the level of sentence processing and at the level of solving reasoning problems. We found that sentence context as well as reasoning context had an immediate ERP effect in adults with Asperger syndrome, as in matched controls. Both groups showed a typical N400 effect and a late positive component for the sentence conditions, and a sustained negativity for the reasoning conditions. In contrast, the HFA group demonstrated neither an N400 effect nor a sustained negativity. However, the HFA group showed a late positive component which was larger for semantically anomalous sentences than congruent sentences. Because sentence context had a modulating effect in a later phase, semantic integration is perhaps less automatic in HFA, and presumably more elaborate processes are needed to arrive at a sentence interpretation.
  • Ringersma, J., Kastens, K., Tschida, U., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2010). A principled approach to online publication listings and scientific resource sharing. The Code4Lib Journal, 2010(9), 2520.

    Abstract

    The Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Psycholinguistics has developed a service to manage and present the scholarly output of their researchers. The PubMan database manages publication metadata and full-texts of publications published by their scholars. All relevant information regarding a researcher’s work is brought together in this database, including supplementary materials and links to the MPI database for primary research data. The PubMan metadata is harvested into the MPI website CMS (Plone). The system developed for the creation of the publication lists, allows the researcher to create a selection of the harvested data in a variety of formats.
  • De Ruiter, J. P., Noordzij, M. L., Newman-Norlund, S., Hagoort, P., Levinson, S. C., & Toni, I. (2010). Exploring the cognitive infrastructure of communication. Interaction studies, 11, 51-77. doi:10.1075/is.11.1.05rui.

    Abstract

    Human communication is often thought about in terms of transmitted messages in a conventional code like a language. But communication requires a specialized interactive intelligence. Senders have to be able to perform recipient design, while receivers need to be able to do intention recognition, knowing that recipient design has taken place. To study this interactive intelligence in the lab, we developed a new task that taps directly into the underlying abilities to communicate in the absence of a conventional code. We show that subjects are remarkably successful communicators under these conditions, especially when senders get feedback from receivers. Signaling is accomplished by the manner in which an instrumental action is performed, such that instrumentally dysfunctional components of an action are used to convey communicative intentions. The findings have important implications for the nature of the human communicative infrastructure, and the task opens up a line of experimentation on human communication.
  • Simanova, I., Van Gerven, M., Oostenveld, R., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Identifying object categories from event-related EEG: Toward decoding of conceptual representations. Plos One, 5(12), E14465. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014465.

    Abstract

    Multivariate pattern analysis is a technique that allows the decoding of conceptual information such as the semantic category of a perceived object from neuroimaging data. Impressive single-trial classification results have been reported in studies that used fMRI. Here, we investigate the possibility to identify conceptual representations from event-related EEG based on the presentation of an object in different modalities: its spoken name, its visual representation and its written name. We used Bayesian logistic regression with a multivariate Laplace prior for classification. Marked differences in classification performance were observed for the tested modalities. Highest accuracies (89% correctly classified trials) were attained when classifying object drawings. In auditory and orthographical modalities, results were lower though still significant for some subjects. The employed classification method allowed for a precise temporal localization of the features that contributed to the performance of the classifier for three modalities. These findings could help to further understand the mechanisms underlying conceptual representations. The study also provides a first step towards the use of concept decoding in the context of real-time brain-computer interface applications.
  • Snijders, T. M., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Effective connectivity of cortical and subcortical regions during unification of sentence structure. NeuroImage, 52, 1633-1644. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.05.035.

    Abstract

    In a recent fMRI study we showed that left posterior middle temporal gyrus (LpMTG) subserves the retrieval of a word's lexical-syntactic properties from the mental lexicon (long-term memory), while left posterior inferior frontal gyrus (LpIFG) is involved in unifying (on-line integration of) this information into a sentence structure (Snijders et al., 2009). In addition, the right IFG, right MTG, and the right striatum were involved in the unification process. Here we report results from a psychophysical interactions (PPI) analysis in which we investigated the effective connectivity between LpIFG and LpMTG during unification, and how the right hemisphere areas and the striatum are functionally connected to the unification network. LpIFG and LpMTG both showed enhanced connectivity during the unification process with a region slightly superior to our previously reported LpMTG. Right IFG better predicted right temporal activity when unification processes were more strongly engaged, just as LpIFG better predicted left temporal activity. Furthermore, the striatum showed enhanced coupling to LpIFG and LpMTG during unification. We conclude that bilateral inferior frontal and posterior temporal regions are functionally connected during sentence-level unification. Cortico-subcortical connectivity patterns suggest cooperation between inferior frontal and striatal regions in performing unification operations on lexical-syntactic representations retrieved from LpMTG.
  • Uddén, J., Folia, V., & Petersson, K. M. (2010). The neuropharmacology of implicit learning. Current Neuropharmacology, 8, 367-381. doi:10.2174/157015910793358178.

    Abstract

    Two decades of pharmacologic research on the human capacity to implicitly acquire knowledge as well as cognitive skills and procedures have yielded surprisingly few conclusive insights. We review the empirical literature of the neuropharmacology of implicit learning. We evaluate the findings in the context of relevant computational models related to neurotransmittors such as dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and noradrenalin. These include models for reinforcement learning, sequence production, and categorization. We conclude, based on the reviewed literature, that one can predict improved implicit acquisition by moderately elevated dopamine levels and impaired implicit acquisition by moderately decreased dopamine levels. These effects are most prominent in the dorsal striatum. This is supported by a range of behavioral tasks in the empirical literature. Similar predictions can be made for serotonin, although there is yet a lack of support in the literature for serotonin involvement in classical implicit learning tasks. There is currently a lack of evidence for a role of the noradrenergic and cholinergic systems in implicit and related forms of learning. GABA modulators, including benzodiazepines, seem to affect implicit learning in a complex manner and further research is needed. Finally, we identify allosteric AMPA receptors modulators as a potentially interesting target for future investigation of the neuropharmacology of procedural and implicit learning.
  • Van Alphen, P. M., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2010). Is there pain in champagne? Semantic involvement of words within words during sense-making. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 2618-2626. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21336.

    Abstract

    In an ERP experiment, we examined whether listeners, when making sense of spoken utterances, take into account the meaning of spurious words that are embedded in longer words, either at their onsets (e. g., pie in pirate) or at their offsets (e. g., pain in champagne). In the experiment, Dutch listeners heard Dutch words with initial or final embeddings presented in a sentence context that did or did not support the meaning of the embedded word, while equally supporting the longer carrier word. The N400 at the carrier words was modulated by the semantic fit of the embedded words, indicating that listeners briefly relate the meaning of initial-and final-embedded words to the sentential context, even though these words were not intended by the speaker. These findings help us understand the dynamics of initial sense-making and its link to lexical activation. In addition, they shed new light on the role of lexical competition and the debate concerning the lexical activation of final-embedded words.
  • Van Leeuwen, T. M., Petersson, K. M., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Synaesthetic colour in the brain: Beyond colour areas. A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of synaesthetes and matched controls. PLoS One, 5(8), E12074. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012074.

    Abstract

    Background: In synaesthesia, sensations in a particular modality cause additional experiences in a second, unstimulated modality (e.g., letters elicit colour). Understanding how synaesthesia is mediated in the brain can help to understand normal processes of perceptual awareness and multisensory integration. In several neuroimaging studies, enhanced brain activity for grapheme-colour synaesthesia has been found in ventral-occipital areas that are also involved in real colour processing. Our question was whether the neural correlates of synaesthetically induced colour and real colour experience are truly shared. Methodology/Principal Findings: First, in a free viewing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment, we located main effects of synaesthesia in left superior parietal lobule and in colour related areas. In the left superior parietal lobe, individual differences between synaesthetes (projector-associator distinction) also influenced brain activity, confirming the importance of the left superior parietal lobe for synaesthesia. Next, we applied a repetition suppression paradigm in fMRI, in which a decrease in the BOLD (blood-oxygenated-level-dependent) response is generally observed for repeated stimuli. We hypothesized that synaesthetically induced colours would lead to a reduction in BOLD response for subsequently presented real colours, if the neural correlates were overlapping. We did find BOLD suppression effects induced by synaesthesia, but not within the colour areas. Conclusions/Significance: Because synaesthetically induced colours were not able to suppress BOLD effects for real colour, we conclude that the neural correlates of synaesthetic colour experience and real colour experience are not fully shared. We propose that synaesthetic colour experiences are mediated by higher-order visual pathways that lie beyond the scope of classical, ventral-occipital visual areas. Feedback from these areas, in which the left parietal cortex is likely to play an important role, may induce V4 activation and the percept of synaesthetic colour.
  • Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2010). The brain is a prediction machine that cares about good and bad - Any implications for neuropragmatics? Italian Journal of Linguistics, 22, 181-208.

    Abstract

    Experimental pragmatics asks how people construct contextualized meaning in communication. So what does it mean for this field to add neuroas a prefix to its name? After analyzing the options for any subfield of cognitive science, I argue that neuropragmatics can and occasionally should go beyond the instrumental use of EEG or fMRI and beyond mapping classic theoretical distinctions onto Brodmann areas. In particular, if experimental pragmatics ‘goes neuro’, it should take into account that the brain evolved as a control system that helps its bearer negotiate a highly complex, rapidly changing and often not so friendly environment. In this context, the ability to predict current unknowns, and to rapidly tell good from bad, are essential ingredients of processing. Using insights from non-linguistic areas of cognitive neuroscience as well as from EEG research on utterance comprehension, I argue that for a balanced development of experimental pragmatics, these two characteristics of the brain cannot be ignored.
  • De Vries, M., Barth, A. C. R., Maiworm, S., Knecht, S., Zwitserlood, P., & Flöel, A. (2010). Electrical stimulation of Broca’s area enhances implicit learning of an artificial grammar. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 2427-2436. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21385.

    Abstract

    Artificial grammar learning constitutes a well-established model for the acquisition of grammatical knowledge in a natural setting. Previous neuroimaging studies demonstrated that Broca's area (left BA 44/45) is similarly activated by natural syntactic processing and artificial grammar learning. The current study was conducted to investigate the causal relationship between Broca's area and learning of an artificial grammar by means of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Thirty-eight healthy subjects participated in a between-subject design, with either anodal tDCS (20 min, 1 mA) or sham stimulation, over Broca's area during the acquisition of an artificial grammar. Performance during the acquisition phase, presented as a working memory task, was comparable between groups. In the subsequent classification task, detecting syntactic violations, and specifically, those where no cues to superficial similarity were available, improved significantly after anodal tDCS, resulting in an overall better performance. A control experiment where 10 subjects received anodal tDCS over an area unrelated to artificial grammar learning further supported the specificity of these effects to Broca's area. We conclude that Broca's area is specifically involved in rule-based knowledge, and here, in an improved ability to detect syntactic violations. The results cannot be explained by better tDCS-induced working memory performance during the acquisition phase. This is the first study that demonstrates that tDCS may facilitate acquisition of grammatical knowledge, a finding of potential interest for rehabilitation of aphasia.
  • De Vries, M., Ulte, C., Zwitserlood, P., Szymanski, B., & Knecht, S. (2010). Increasing dopamine levels in the brain improves feedback-based procedural learning in healthy participants: An artificial-grammar-learning experiment. Neuropsychologia, 48, 3193-3197. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.06.024.

    Abstract

    Recently, an increasing number of studies have suggested a role for the basal ganglia and related dopamine inputs in procedural learning, specifically when learning occurs through trial-by-trial feedback (Shohamy, Myers, Kalanithi, & Gluck. (2008). Basal ganglia and dopamine contributions to probabilistic category learning. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 32, 219–236). A necessary relationship has however only been demonstrated in patient studies. In the present study, we show for the first time that increasing dopamine levels in the brain improves the gradual acquisition of complex information in healthy participants. We implemented two artificial-grammar-learning tasks, one with and one without performance feedback. Learning was improved after levodopa intake for the feedback-based learning task only, suggesting that dopamine plays a specific role in trial-by-trial feedback-based learning. This provides promising directions for future studies on dopaminergic modulation of cognitive functioning.
  • Willems, R. M., De Boer, M., De Ruiter, J. P., Noordzij, M. L., Hagoort, P., & Toni, I. (2010). A dissociation between linguistic and communicative abilities in the human brain. Psychological Science, 21, 8-14. doi:10.1177/0956797609355563.

    Abstract

    Although language is an effective vehicle for communication, it is unclear how linguistic and communicative abilities relate to each other. Some researchers have argued that communicative message generation involves perspective taking (mentalizing), and—crucially—that mentalizing depends on language. We employed a verbal communication paradigm to directly test whether the generation of a communicative action relies on mentalizing and whether the cerebral bases of communicative message generation are distinct from parts of cortex sensitive to linguistic variables. We found that dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, a brain area consistently associated with mentalizing, was sensitive to the communicative intent of utterances, irrespective of linguistic difficulty. In contrast, left inferior frontal cortex, an area known to be involved in language, was sensitive to the linguistic demands of utterances, but not to communicative intent. These findings show that communicative and linguistic abilities rely on cerebrally (and computationally) distinct mechanisms
  • Willems, R. M., Peelen, M. V., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Cerebral lateralization of face-selective and body-selective visual areas depends on handedness. Cerebral Cortex, 20, 1719-1725. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhp234.

    Abstract

    The left-hemisphere dominance for language is a core example of the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres. The degree of left-hemisphere dominance for language depends on hand preference: Whereas the majority of right-handers show left-hemispheric language lateralization, this number is reduced in left-handers. Here, we assessed whether handedness analogously has an influence upon lateralization in the visual system. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we localized 4 more or less specialized extrastriate areas in left- and right-handers, namely fusiform face area (FFA), extrastriate body area (EBA), fusiform body area (FBA), and human motion area (human middle temporal [hMT]). We found that lateralization of FFA and EBA depends on handedness: These areas were right lateralized in right-handers but not in left-handers. A similar tendency was observed in FBA but not in hMT. We conclude that the relationship between handedness and hemispheric lateralization extends to functionally lateralized parts of visual cortex, indicating a general coupling between cerebral lateralization and handedness. Our findings indicate that hemispheric specialization is not fixed but can vary considerably across individuals even in areas engaged relatively early in the visual system.
  • Willems, R. M., Hagoort, P., & Casasanto, D. (2010). Body-specific representations of action verbs: Neural evidence from right- and left-handers. Psychological Science, 21, 67-74. doi:10.1177/0956797609354072.

    Abstract

    According to theories of embodied cognition, understanding a verb like throw involves unconsciously simulating the action of throwing, using areas of the brain that support motor planning. If understanding action words involves mentally simulating one’s own actions, then the neurocognitive representation of word meanings should differ for people with different kinds of bodies, who perform actions in systematically different ways. In a test of the body-specificity hypothesis, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare premotor activity correlated with action verb understanding in right- and left-handers. Righthanders preferentially activated the left premotor cortex during lexical decisions on manual-action verbs (compared with nonmanual-action verbs), whereas left-handers preferentially activated right premotor areas. This finding helps refine theories of embodied semantics, suggesting that implicit mental simulation during language processing is body specific: Right- and lefthanders, who perform actions differently, use correspondingly different areas of the brain for representing action verb meanings.
  • Willems, R. M., Toni, I., Hagoort, P., & Casasanto, D. (2010). Neural dissociations between action verb understanding and motor imagery. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(10), 2387-2400. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21386.

    Abstract

    According to embodied theories of language, people understand a verb like throw, at least in part, by mentally simulating throwing. This implicit simulation is often assumed to be similar or identical to motor imagery. Here we used fMRI totest whether implicit simulations of actions during language understanding involve the same cortical motor regions as explicit motor imagery Healthy participants were presented with verbs related to hand actions (e.g., to throw) and nonmanual actions (e.g., to kneel). They either read these verbs (lexical decision task) or actively imagined performing the actions named by the verbs (imagery task). Primary motor cortex showd effector-specific activation during imagery, but not during lexical decision. Parts of premotor cortex distinguished manual from nonmanual actions during both lexical decision and imagery, but there was no overlap or correlation between regions activated during the two tasks. These dissociations suggest that implicit simulation and explicit imagery cued by action verbs may involve different types of motor representations and that the construct of “mental simulation” should be distinguished from “mental imagery” in embodied theories of language.
  • Xiang, H.-D., Fonteijn, H. M., Norris, D. G., & Hagoort, P. (2010). Topographical functional connectivity pattern in the perisylvian language networks. Cerebral Cortex, 20, 549-560. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhp119.

    Abstract

    We performed a resting-state functional connectivity study to investigate directly the functional correlations within the perisylvian language networks by seeding from 3 subregions of Broca's complex (pars opercularis, pars triangularis, and pars orbitalis) and their right hemisphere homologues. A clear topographical functional connectivity pattern in the left middle frontal, parietal, and temporal areas was revealed for the 3 left seeds. This is the first demonstration that a functional connectivity topology can be observed in the perisylvian language networks. The results support the assumption of the functional division for phonology, syntax, and semantics of Broca's complex as proposed by the memory, unification, and control (MUC) model and indicated a topographical functional organization in the perisylvian language networks, which suggests a possible division of labor for phonological, syntactic, and semantic function in the left frontal, parietal, and temporal areas.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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