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Acheson, D. J., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Twisting tongues to test for conflict monitoring in speech production. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 206. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00206.
AbstractA number of recent studies have hypothesized that monitoring in speech production may occur via domain-general mechanisms responsible for the detection of response conflict. Outside of language, two ERP components have consistently been elicited in conflict-inducing tasks (e.g., the flanker task): the stimulus-locked N2 on correct trials, and the response-locked error-related negativity (ERN). The present investigation used these electrophysiological markers to test whether a common response conflict monitor is responsible for monitoring in speech and non-speech tasks. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded while participants performed a tongue twister (TT) task and a manual version of the flanker task. In the TT task, people rapidly read sequences of four nonwords arranged in TT and non-TT patterns three times. In the flanker task, people responded with a left/right button press to a center-facing arrow, and conflict was manipulated by the congruency of the flanking arrows. Behavioral results showed typical effects of both tasks, with increased error rates and slower speech onset times for TT relative to non-TT trials and for incongruent relative to congruent flanker trials. In the flanker task, stimulus-locked EEG analyses replicated previous results, with a larger N2 for incongruent relative to congruent trials, and a response-locked ERN. In the TT task, stimulus-locked analyses revealed broad, frontally-distributed differences beginning around 50 ms and lasting until just before speech initiation, with TT trials more negative than non-TT trials; response-locked analyses revealed an ERN. Correlation across these measures showed some correlations within a task, but little evidence of systematic cross-task correlation. Although the present results do not speak against conflict signals from the production system serving as cues to self-monitoring, they are not consistent with signatures of response conflict being mediated by a single, domain-general conflict monitor
Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Bramão, I., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2014). Lexical and phonological processes in dyslexic readers: Evidences from a visual lexical decision task. Dyslexia, 20, 38-53. doi:10.1002/dys.1461.
AbstractThe aim of the present study was to investigate whether reading failure in the context of an orthography of intermediate consistency is linked to inefficient use of the lexical orthographic reading procedure. The performance of typically developing and dyslexic Portuguese-speaking children was examined in a lexical decision task, where the stimulus lexicality, word frequency and length were manipulated. Both lexicality and length effects were larger in the dyslexic group than in controls, although the interaction between group and frequency disappeared when the data were transformed to control for general performance factors. Children with dyslexia were influenced in lexical decision making by the stimulus length of words and pseudowords, whereas age-matched controls were influenced by the length of pseudowords only. These findings suggest that non-impaired readers rely mainly on lexical orthographic information, but children with dyslexia preferentially use the phonological decoding procedure—albeit poorly—most likely because they struggle to process orthographic inputs as a whole such as controls do. Accordingly, dyslexic children showed significantly poorer performance than controls for all types of stimuli, including words that could be considered over-learned, such as high-frequency words. This suggests that their orthographic lexical entries are less established in the orthographic lexicon
Basnakova, J., Weber, K., Petersson, K. M., Van Berkum, J. J. A., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Beyond the language given: The neural correlates of inferring speaker meaning. Cerebral Cortex, 24(10), 2572-2578. doi:10.1093/cercor/bht112.
AbstractEven though language allows us to say exactly what we mean, we often use language to say things indirectly, in a way that depends on the specific communicative context. For example, we can use an apparently straightforward sentence like "It is hard to give a good presentation" to convey deeper meanings, like "Your talk was a mess!" One of the big puzzles in language science is how listeners work out what speakers really mean, which is a skill absolutely central to communication. However, most neuroimaging studies of language comprehension have focused on the arguably much simpler, context-independent process of understanding direct utterances. To examine the neural systems involved in getting at contextually constrained indirect meaning, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging as people listened to indirect replies in spoken dialog. Relative to direct control utterances, indirect replies engaged dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, right temporo-parietal junction and insula, as well as bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and right medial temporal gyrus. This suggests that listeners take the speaker's perspective on both cognitive (theory of mind) and affective (empathy-like) levels. In line with classic pragmatic theories, our results also indicate that currently popular "simulationist" accounts of language comprehension fail to explain how listeners understand the speaker's intended message.
Cai, D., Fonteijn, H. M., Guadalupe, T., Zwiers, M., Wittfeld, K., Teumer, A., Hoogman, M., Arias Vásquez, A., Yang, Y., Buitelaar, J., Fernández, G., Brunner, H. G., Van Bokhoven, H., Franke, B., Hegenscheid, K., Homuth, G., Fisher, S. E., Grabe, H. J., Francks, C., & Hagoort, P. (2014). A genome wide search for quantitative trait loci affecting the cortical surface area and thickness of Heschl's gyrus. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 13, 675-685. doi:10.1111/gbb.12157.
AbstractHeschl's gyrus (HG) is a core region of the auditory cortex whose morphology is highly variable across individuals. This variability has been linked to sound perception ability in both speech and music domains. Previous studies show that variations in morphological features of HG, such as cortical surface area and thickness, are heritable. To identify genetic variants that affect HG morphology, we conducted a genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis in 3054 healthy individuals using HG surface area and thickness as quantitative traits. None of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed association P values that would survive correction for multiple testing over the genome. The most significant association was found between right HG area and SNP rs72932726 close to gene DCBLD2 (3q12.1; P=2.77x10(-7)). This SNP was also associated with other regions involved in speech processing. The SNP rs333332 within gene KALRN (3q21.2; P=2.27x10(-6)) and rs143000161 near gene COBLL1 (2q24.3; P=2.40x10(-6)) were associated with the area and thickness of left HG, respectively. Both genes are involved in the development of the nervous system. The SNP rs7062395 close to the X-linked deafness gene POU3F4 was associated with right HG thickness (Xq21.1; P=2.38x10(-6)). This is the first molecular genetic analysis of variability in HG morphology
Capilla, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Paterson, G., Thut, G., & Gross, J. (2014). Dissociated α-band modulations in the dorsal and ventral visual pathways in visuospatial attention and perception. Cerebral Cortex., 24(2), 550-561. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs343.
AbstractModulations of occipito-parietal α-band (8–14 Hz) power that are opposite in direction (α-enhancement vs. α-suppression) and origin of generation (ipsilateral vs. contralateral to the locus of attention) are a robust correlate of anticipatory visuospatial attention. Yet, the neural generators of these α-band modulations, their interdependence across homotopic areas, and their respective contribution to subsequent perception remain unclear. To shed light on these questions, we employed magnetoencephalography, while human volunteers performed a spatially cued detection task. Replicating previous findings, we found α-power enhancement ipsilateral to the attended hemifield and contralateral α-suppression over occipitoparietal sensors. Source localization (beamforming) analysis showed that α-enhancement and suppression were generated in 2 distinct brain regions, located in the dorsal and ventral visual streams, respectively. Moreover, α-enhancement and suppression showed different dynamics and contribution to perception. In contrast to the initial and transient dorsal α-enhancement, α-suppression in ventro-lateral occipital cortex was sustained and influenced subsequent target detection. This anticipatory biasing of ventrolateral extrastriate α-activity probably reflects increased receptivity in the brain region specialized in processing upcoming target features. Our results add to current models on the role of α-oscillations in attention orienting by showing that α-enhancement and suppression can be dissociated in time, space, and perceptual relevance.
Chu, M., Meyer, A. S., Foulkes, L., & Kita, S. (2014). Individual differences in frequency and saliency of speech-accompanying gestures: The role of cognitive abilities and empathy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 694-709. doi:10.1037/a0033861.
AbstractThe present study concerns individual differences in gesture production. We used correlational and multiple regression analyses to examine the relationship between individuals’ cognitive abilities and empathy levels and their gesture frequency and saliency. We chose predictor variables according to experimental evidence of the functions of gesture in speech production and communication. We examined 3 types of gestures: representational gestures, conduit gestures, and palm-revealing gestures. Higher frequency of representational gestures was related to poorer visual and spatial working memory, spatial transformation ability, and conceptualization ability; higher frequency of conduit gestures was related to poorer visual working memory, conceptualization ability, and higher levels of empathy; and higher frequency of palm-revealing gestures was related to higher levels of empathy. The saliency of all gestures was positively related to level of empathy. These results demonstrate that cognitive abilities and empathy levels are related to individual differences in gesture frequency and saliency
Chu, M., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Synchronization of speech and gesture: Evidence for interaction in action. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(4), 1726-1741. doi:10.1037/a0036281.
AbstractLanguage and action systems are highly interlinked. A critical piece of evidence is that speech and its accompanying gestures are tightly synchronized. Five experiments were conducted to test 2 hypotheses about the synchronization of speech and gesture. According to the interactive view, there is continuous information exchange between the gesture and speech systems, during both their planning and execution phases. According to the ballistic view, information exchange occurs only during the planning phases of gesture and speech, but the 2 systems become independent once their execution has been initiated. In all experiments, participants were required to point to and/or name a light that had just lit up. Virtual reality and motion tracking technologies were used to disrupt their gesture or speech execution. Participants delayed their speech onset when their gesture was disrupted. They did so even when their gesture was disrupted at its late phase and even when they received only the kinesthetic feedback of their gesture. Also, participants prolonged their gestures when their speech was disrupted. These findings support the interactive view and add new constraints on models of speech and gesture production
Cristia, A., Minagawa-Kawai, Y., Egorova, N., Gervain, J., Filippin, L., Cabrol, D., & Dupoux, E. (2014). Neural correlates of infant accent discrimination: An fNIRS study. Developmental Science, 17(4), 628-635. doi:10.1111/desc.12160.
AbstractThe present study investigated the neural correlates of infant discrimination of very similar linguistic varieties (Quebecois and Parisian French) using functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy. In line with previous behavioral and electrophysiological data, there was no evidence that 3-month-olds discriminated the two regional accents, whereas 5-month-olds did, with the locus of discrimination in left anterior perisylvian regions. These neuroimaging results suggest that a developing language network relying crucially on left perisylvian cortices sustains infants' discrimination of similar linguistic varieties within this early period of infancy.
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Cristia, A., Seidl, A., Junge, C., Soderstrom, M., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Predicting individual variation in language from infant speech perception measures. Child development, 85(4), 1330-1345. doi:10.1111/cdev.12193.
AbstractThere are increasing reports that individual variation in behavioral and neurophysiological measures of infant speech processing predicts later language outcomes, and specifically concurrent or subsequent vocabulary size. If such findings are held up under scrutiny, they could both illuminate theoretical models of language development and contribute to the prediction of communicative disorders. A qualitative, systematic review of this emergent literature illustrated the variety of approaches that have been used and highlighted some conceptual problems regarding the measurements. A quantitative analysis of the same data established that the bivariate relation was significant, with correlations of similar strength to those found for well-established nonlinguistic predictors of language. Further exploration of infant speech perception predictors, particularly from a methodological perspective, is recommended.
Cristia, A., & Seidl, A. (2014). The hyperarticulation hypothesis of infant-directed speech. Journal of Child Language, 41(4), 913-934. doi:10.1017/S0305000912000669.
AbstractTypically, the point vowels [i,ɑ,u] are acoustically more peripheral in infant-directed speech (IDS) compared to adult-directed speech (ADS). If caregivers seek to highlight lexically relevant contrasts in IDS, then two sounds that are contrastive should become more distinct, whereas two sounds that are surface realizations of the same underlying sound category should not. To test this prediction, vowels that are phonemically contrastive ([i-ɪ] and [eɪ-ε]), vowels that map onto the same underlying category ([æ- ] and [ε- ]), and the point vowels [i,ɑ,u] were elicited in IDS and ADS by American English mothers of two age groups of infants (four- and eleven-month-olds). As in other work, point vowels were produced in more peripheral positions in IDS compared to ADS. However, there was little evidence of hyperarticulation per se (e.g. [i-ɪ] was hypoarticulated). We suggest that across-the-board lexically based hyperarticulation is not a necessary feature of IDS.
Dautriche, I., Cristia, A., Brusini, P., Yuan, S., Fisher, C., & Christophe, A. (2014). Toddlers default to canonical surface-to-meaning mapping when learning verbs. Child Development, 85(3), 1168-1180. doi:10.1111/cdev.12183.
AbstractThis work was supported by grants from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-2010-BLAN-1901) and from French Fondation de France to Anne Christophe, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD054448) to Cynthia Fisher, Fondation Fyssen and Ecole de Neurosciences de Paris to Alex Cristia, and a PhD fellowship from the Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA, France) supported by the PhD program FdV (Frontières du Vivant) to Isabelle Dautriche. We thank Isabelle Brunet for the recruitment, Michel Dutat for the technical support, and Hernan Anllo for his puppet mastery skill. We are grateful to the families that participated in this study. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.
Dolscheid, S., Hunnius, S., Casasanto, D., & Majid, A. (2014). Prelinguistic infants are sensitive to space-pitch associations found across cultures. Psychological Science, 25(6), 1256-1261. doi:10.1177/0956797614528521.
AbstractPeople often talk about musical pitch using spatial metaphors. In English, for instance, pitches can be “high” or “low” (i.e., height-pitch association), whereas in other languages, pitches are described as “thin” or “thick” (i.e., thickness-pitch association). According to results from psychophysical studies, metaphors in language can shape people’s nonlinguistic space-pitch representations. But does language establish mappings between space and pitch in the first place, or does it only modify preexisting associations? To find out, we tested 4-month-old Dutch infants’ sensitivity to height-pitch and thickness-pitch mappings using a preferential-looking paradigm. The infants looked significantly longer at cross-modally congruent stimuli for both space-pitch mappings, which indicates that infants are sensitive to these associations before language acquisition. The early presence of space-pitch mappings means that these associations do not originate from language. Instead, language builds on preexisting mappings, changing them gradually via competitive associative learning. Space-pitch mappings that are language-specific in adults develop from mappings that may be universal in infants.
Folia, V., & Petersson, K. M. (2014). Implicit structured sequence learning: An fMRI study of the structural mere-exposure effect. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 41. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00041.
AbstractIn this event-related FMRI study we investigated the effect of five days of implicit acquisition on preference classification by means of an artificial grammar learning (AGL) paradigm based on the structural mere-exposure effect and preference classification using a simple right-linear unification grammar. This allowed us to investigate implicit AGL in a proper learning design by including baseline measurements prior to grammar exposure. After 5 days of implicit acquisition, the FMRI results showed activations in a network of brain regions including the inferior frontal (centered on BA 44/45) and the medial prefrontal regions (centered on BA 8/32). Importantly, and central to this study, the inclusion of a naive preference FMRI baseline measurement allowed us to conclude that these FMRI findings were the intrinsic outcomes of the learning process itself and not a reflection of a preexisting functionality recruited during classification, independent of acquisition. Support for the implicit nature of the knowledge utilized during preference classification on day 5 come from the fact that the basal ganglia, associated with implicit procedural learning, were activated during classification, while the medial temporal lobe system, associated with explicit declarative memory, was consistently deactivated. Thus, preference classification in combination with structural mere-exposure can be used to investigate structural sequence processing (syntax) in unsupervised AGL paradigms with proper learning designs.
De Grauwe, S., Willems, R. M., Rüschemeyer, S.-A., Lemhöfer, K., & Schriefers, H. (2014). Embodied language in first- and second-language speakers: Neural correlates of processing motor verbs. Neuropsychologia, 56, 334-349. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.02.003.
AbstractThe involvement of neural motor and sensory systems in the processing of language has so far mainly been studied in native (L1) speakers. In an fMRI experiment, we investigated whether non-native (L2) semantic representations are rich enough to allow for activation in motor and somatosensory brain areas. German learners of Dutch and a control group of Dutch native speakers made lexical decisions about visually presented Dutch motor and non-motor verbs. Region-of-interest (ROI) and whole-brain analyses indicated that L2 speakers, like L1 speakers, showed significantly increased activation for simple motor compared to non-motor verbs in motor and somatosensory regions. This effect was not restricted to Dutch-German cognate verbs, but was also present for non-cognate verbs. These results indicate that L2 semantic representations are rich enough for motor-related activations to develop in motor and somatosensory areas.
De Grauwe, S., Lemhöfer, K., Willems, R. M., & Schriefers, H. (2014). L2 speakers decompose morphologically complex verbs: fMRI evidence from priming of transparent derived verbs. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 802. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00802.
AbstractIn this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) long-lag priming study, we investigated the processing of Dutch semantically transparent, derived prefix verbs. In such words, the meaning of the word as a whole can be deduced from the meanings of its parts, e.g., wegleggen “put aside.” Many behavioral and some fMRI studies suggest that native (L1) speakers decompose transparent derived words. The brain region usually implicated in morphological decomposition is the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG). In non-native (L2) speakers, the processing of transparent derived words has hardly been investigated, especially in fMRI studies, and results are contradictory: some studies find more reliance on holistic (i.e., non-decompositional) processing by L2 speakers; some find no difference between L1 and L2 speakers. In this study, we wanted to find out whether Dutch transparent derived prefix verbs are decomposed or processed holistically by German L2 speakers of Dutch. Half of the derived verbs (e.g., omvallen “fall down”) were preceded by their stem (e.g., vallen “fall”) with a lag of 4–6 words (“primed”); the other half (e.g., inslapen “fall asleep”) were not (“unprimed”). L1 and L2 speakers of Dutch made lexical decisions on these visually presented verbs. Both region of interest analyses and whole-brain analyses showed that there was a significant repetition suppression effect for primed compared to unprimed derived verbs in the LIFG. This was true both for the analyses over L2 speakers only and for the analyses over the two language groups together. The latter did not reveal any interaction with language group (L1 vs. L2) in the LIFG. Thus, L2 speakers show a clear priming effect in the LIFG, an area that has been associated with morphological decomposition. Our findings are consistent with the idea that L2 speakers engage in decomposition of transparent derived verbs rather than processing them holistically
Additional informationData Sheet 1.docx
Guadalupe, T., Willems, R. M., Zwiers, M., Arias Vasquez, A., Hoogman, M., Hagoort, P., Fernández, G., Buitelaar, J., Franke, B., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2014). Differences in cerebral cortical anatomy of left- and right-handers. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 261. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00261.
AbstractThe left and right sides of the human brain are specialized for different kinds of information processing, and much of our cognition is lateralized to an extent towards one side or the other. Handedness is a reflection of nervous system lateralization. Roughly ten percent of people are mixed- or left-handed, and they show an elevated rate of reductions or reversals of some cerebral functional asymmetries compared to right-handers. Brain anatomical correlates of left-handedness have also been suggested. However, the relationships of left-handedness to brain structure and function remain far from clear. We carried out a comprehensive analysis of cortical surface area differences between 106 left-handed subjects and 1960 right-handed subjects, measured using an automated method of regional parcellation (FreeSurfer, Destrieux atlas). This is the largest study sample that has so far been used in relation to this issue. No individual cortical region showed an association with left-handedness that survived statistical correction for multiple testing, although there was a nominally significant association with the surface area of a previously implicated region: the left precentral sulcus. Identifying brain structural correlates of handedness may prove useful for genetic studies of cerebral asymmetries, as well as providing new avenues for the study of relations between handedness, cerebral lateralization and cognition.
Guadalupe, T., Zwiers, M. P., Teumer, A., Wittfeld, K., Arias Vasquez, A., Hoogman, M., Hagoort, P., Fernández, G., Buitelaar, J., Hegenscheid, K., Völzke, H., Franke, B., Fisher, S. E., Grabe, H. J., & Francks, C. (2014). Measurement and genetics of human subcortical and hippocampal asymmetries in large datasets. Human Brain Mapping, 35(7), 3277-3289. doi:10.1002/hbm.22401.
AbstractFunctional and anatomical asymmetries are prevalent features of the human brain, linked to gender, handedness, and cognition. However, little is known about the neurodevelopmental processes involved. In zebrafish, asymmetries arise in the diencephalon before extending within the central nervous system. We aimed to identify genes involved in the development of subtle, left-right volumetric asymmetries of human subcortical structures using large datasets. We first tested the feasibility of measuring left-right volume differences in such large-scale samples, as assessed by two automated methods of subcortical segmentation (FSL|FIRST and FreeSurfer), using data from 235 subjects who had undergone MRI twice. We tested the agreement between the first and second scan, and the agreement between the segmentation methods, for measures of bilateral volumes of six subcortical structures and the hippocampus, and their volumetric asymmetries. We also tested whether there were biases introduced by left-right differences in the regional atlases used by the methods, by analyzing left-right flipped images. While many bilateral volumes were measured well (scan-rescan r = 0.6-0.8), most asymmetries, with the exception of the caudate nucleus, showed lower repeatabilites. We meta-analyzed genome-wide association scan results for caudate nucleus asymmetry in a combined sample of 3,028 adult subjects but did not detect associations at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10-8). There was no enrichment of genetic association in genes involved in left-right patterning of the viscera. Our results provide important information for researchers who are currently aiming to carry out large-scale genome-wide studies of subcortical and hippocampal volumes, and their asymmetries
Hagoort, P. (2014). Nodes and networks in the neural architecture for language: Broca's region and beyond. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 28, 136-141. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2014.07.013.
AbstractCurrent views on the neurobiological underpinnings of language are discussed that deviate in a number of ways from the classical Wernicke–Lichtheim–Geschwind model. More areas than Broca's and Wernicke's region are involved in language. Moreover, a division along the axis of language production and language comprehension does not seem to be warranted. Instead, for central aspects of language processing neural infrastructure is shared between production and comprehension. Three different accounts of the role of Broca's area in language are discussed. Arguments are presented in favor of a dynamic network view, in which the functionality of a region is co-determined by the network of regions in which it is embedded at particular moments in time. Finally, core regions of language processing need to interact with other networks (e.g. the attentional networks and the ToM network) to establish full functionality of language and communication.
Hagoort, P., & Indefrey, P. (2014). The neurobiology of language beyond single words. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 37, 347-362. doi:10.1146/annurev-neuro-071013-013847.
AbstractA hallmark of human language is that we combine lexical building blocks retrieved from memory in endless new ways. This combinatorial aspect of language is referred to as unification. Here we focus on the neurobiological infrastructure for syntactic and semantic unification. Unification is characterized by a high-speed temporal profile including both prediction and integration of retrieved lexical elements. A meta-analysis of numerous neuroimaging studies reveals a clear dorsal/ventral gradient in both left inferior frontal cortex and left posterior temporal cortex, with dorsal foci for syntactic processing and ventral foci for semantic processing. In addition to core areas for unification, further networks need to be recruited to realize language-driven communication to its full extent. One example is the theory of mind network, which allows listeners and readers to infer the intended message (speaker meaning) from the coded meaning of the linguistic utterance. This indicates that sensorimotor simulation cannot handle all of language processing.
Holler, J., Schubotz, L., Kelly, S., Hagoort, P., Schuetze, M., & Ozyurek, A. (2014). Social eye gaze modulates processing of speech and co-speech gesture. Cognition, 133, 692-697. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.08.008.
AbstractIn human face-to-face communication, language comprehension is a multi-modal, situated activity. However, little is known about how we combine information from different modalities during comprehension, and how perceived communicative intentions, often signaled through visual signals, influence this process. We explored this question by simulating a multi-party communication context in which a speaker alternated her gaze between two recipients. Participants viewed speech-only or speech + gesture object-related messages when being addressed (direct gaze) or unaddressed (gaze averted to other participant). They were then asked to choose which of two object images matched the speaker’s preceding message. Unaddressed recipients responded significantly more slowly than addressees for speech-only utterances. However, perceiving the same speech accompanied by gestures sped unaddressed recipients up to a level identical to that of addressees. That is, when unaddressed recipients’ speech processing suffers, gestures can enhance the comprehension of a speaker’s message. We discuss our findings with respect to two hypotheses attempting to account for how social eye gaze may modulate multi-modal language comprehension.
Junge, C., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Successful word recognition by 10-month-olds given continuous speech both at initial exposure and test. Infancy, 19(2), 179-193. doi:10.1111/infa.12040.
AbstractMost words that infants hear occur within fluent speech. To compile a vocabulary, infants therefore need to segment words from speech contexts. This study is the first to investigate whether infants (here: 10-month-olds) can recognize words when both initial exposure and test presentation are in continuous speech. Electrophysiological evidence attests that this indeed occurs: An increased extended negativity (word recognition effect) appears for familiarized target words relative to control words. This response proved constant at the individual level: Only infants who showed this negativity at test had shown such a response, within six repetitions after first occurrence, during familiarization.
Keller, K. L., Fritz, R. S., Zoubek, C. M., Kennedy, E. H., Cronin, K. A., Rothwell, E. S., & Serfass, T. L. (2014). Effects of transport on fecal glucocorticoid levels in captive-bred cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, 88(2), 84-88.
AbstractThe relocation of animals can induce stress when animals are placed in novel environmental conditions. The movement of captive animals among facilities is common, especially for non-human primates used in research. The stress response begins with the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which results in the release of glucocorticoid hormones (GC), which at chronic levels could lead to deleterious physiological effects. There is a substantial body of data concerning GC levels affecting reproduction, and rank and aggression in primates. However, the effect of transport has received much less attention. Fecal samples from eight (four male and four female) captive-bred cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) were collected at four different time points (two pre-transport and two post-transport). The fecal samples were analyzed using an immunoassay to determine GC levels. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) demonstrated that GC levels differed among transport times (p = 0.009), but not between sexes (p = 0.963). Five of the eight tamarins exhibited an increase in GC levels after transport. Seven of the eight tamarins exhibited a decrease in GC levels from three to six days post-transport to three weeks post-transport. Most values returned to pre-transport levels after three weeks. The results indicate that these tamarins experienced elevated GC levels following transport, but these increases were of short duration. This outcome would suggest that the negative effects of elevated GC levels were also of short duration.
Kunert, R., & Scheepers, C. (2014). Speed and accuracy of dyslexic versus typical word recognition: An eye-movement investigation. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 1129. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01129.
AbstractDevelopmental dyslexia is often characterized by a dual deficit in both word recognition accuracy and general processing speed. While previous research into dyslexic word recognition may have suffered from speed-accuracy trade-off, the present study employed a novel eye-tracking task that is less prone to such confounds. Participants (10 dyslexics and 12 controls) were asked to look at real word stimuli, and to ignore simultaneously presented non-word stimuli, while their eye-movements were recorded. Improvements in word recognition accuracy over time were modeled in terms of a continuous non-linear function. The words' rhyme consistency and the non-words' lexicality (unpronounceable, pronounceable, pseudohomophone) were manipulated within-subjects. Speed-related measures derived from the model fits confirmed generally slower processing in dyslexics, and showed a rhyme consistency effect in both dyslexics and controls. In terms of overall error rate, dyslexics (but not controls) performed less accurately on rhyme-inconsistent words, suggesting a representational deficit for such words in dyslexics. Interestingly, neither group showed a pseudohomophone effect in speed or accuracy, which might call the task-independent pervasiveness of this effect into question. The present results illustrate the importance of distinguishing between speed- vs. accuracy-related effects for our understanding of dyslexic word recognition
Additional informationKunert_Data Sheet 1.DOCX
Lai, V. T., Garrido Rodriguez, G., & Narasimhan, B. (2014). Thinking-for-speaking in early and late bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17, 139-152. doi:10.1017/S1366728913000151.
AbstractWhen speakers describe motion events using different languages, they subsequently classify those events in language-specific ways (Gennari, Sloman, Malt & Fitch, 2002). Here we ask if bilingual speakers flexibly shift their event classification preferences based on the language in which they verbally encode those events. English–Spanish bilinguals and monolingual controls described motion events in either Spanish or English. Subsequently they judged the similarity of the motion events in a triad task. Bilinguals tested in Spanish and Spanish monolinguals were more likely to make similarity judgments based on the path of motion versus bilinguals tested in English and English monolinguals. The effect is modulated in bilinguals by the age of acquisition of the second language. Late bilinguals based their judgments on path more often when Spanish was used to describe the motion events versus English. Early bilinguals had a path preference independent of the language in use. These findings support “thinking-for-speaking” (Slobin, 1996) in late bilinguals.
Levy, J., Hagoort, P., & Démonet, J.-F. (2014). A neuronal gamma oscillatory signature during morphological unification in the left occipitotemporal junction. Human Brain Mapping, 35, 5847-5860. doi:10.1002/hbm.22589.
AbstractMorphology is the aspect of language concerned with the internal structure of words. In the past decades, a large body of masked priming (behavioral and neuroimaging) data has suggested that the visual word recognition system automatically decomposes any morphologically complex word into a stem and its constituent morphemes. Yet the reliance of morphology on other reading processes (e.g., orthography and semantics), as well as its underlying neuronal mechanisms are yet to be determined. In the current magnetoencephalography study, we addressed morphology from the perspective of the unification framework, that is, by applying the Hold/Release paradigm, morphological unification was simulated via the assembly of internal morphemic units into a whole word. Trials representing real words were divided into words with a transparent (true) or a nontransparent (pseudo) morphological relationship. Morphological unification of truly suffixed words was faster and more accurate and additionally enhanced induced oscillations in the narrow gamma band (60–85 Hz, 260–440 ms) in the left posterior occipitotemporal junction. This neural signature could not be explained by a mere automatic lexical processing (i.e., stem perception), but more likely it related to a semantic access step during the morphological unification process. By demonstrating the validity of unification at the morphological level, this study contributes to the vast empirical evidence on unification across other language processes. Furthermore, we point out that morphological unification relies on the retrieval of lexical semantic associations via induced gamma band oscillations in a cerebral hub region for visual word form processing.
Lüttjohann, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Van Luijtelaar, G. (2014). Termination of ongoing spike-wave discharges investigated by cortico-thalamic network analyses. Neurobiology of Disease, 70, 127-137. doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2014.06.007.
AbstractPurpose While decades of research were devoted to study generation mechanisms of spontaneous spike and wave discharges (SWD), little attention has been paid to network mechanisms associated with the spontaneous termination of SWD. In the current study coupling-dynamics at the onset and termination of SWD were studied in an extended part of the cortico-thalamo-cortical system of freely moving, genetic absence epileptic WAG/Rij rats. Methods Local-field potential recordings of 16 male WAG/Rij rats, equipped with multiple electrodes targeting layer 4 to 6 of the somatosensory-cortex (ctx4, ctx5, ctx6), rostral and caudal reticular thalamic nucleus (rRTN & cRTN), Ventral Postero Medial (VPM), anterior- (ATN) and posterior (Po) thalamic nucleus, were obtained. Six seconds lasting pre-SWD->SWD, SWD->post SWD and control periods were analyzed with time-frequency methods and between-region interactions were quantified with frequencyresolved Granger Causality (GC) analysis. Results Most channel-pairs showed increases in GC lasting from onset to offset of the SWD. While for most thalamo-thalamic pairs a dominant coupling direction was found during the complete SWD, most cortico-thalamic pairs only showed a dominant directional drive (always from cortex to thalamus) during the first 500ms of SWD. Channel-pair ctx4-rRTN showed a longer lasting dominant cortical drive, which stopped 1.5 sec prior to SWD offset. This early decrease in directional coupling was followed by an increase in directional coupling from cRTN to rRTN 1 sec prior to SWD offset. For channel pairs ctx5-Po and ctx6-Po the heightened cortex->thalamus coupling remained until 1.5 sec following SWD offset, while the thalamus->cortex coupling for these pairs stopped at SWD offset. Conclusion The high directional coupling from somatosensory cortex to the thalamus at SWD onset is in good agreement with the idea of a cortical epileptic focus that initiates and entrains other brain structures into seizure activity. The decrease of cortex to rRTN coupling as well as the increased coupling from cRTN to rRTN preceding SWD termination demonstrate that SWD termination is a gradual process that involves both cortico-thalamic as well as intrathalamic processes. The rostral RTN seems to be an important resonator for SWD and relevant for maintenance, while the cRTN might inhibit this oscillation. The somatosensory cortex seems to attempt to reinitiate SWD following its offset via its strong coupling to the posterior thalamus.
Magyari, L., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., De Ruiter, J. P., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Early anticipation lies behind the speed of response in conversation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(11), 2530-2539. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00673.
AbstractRTs in conversation, with average gaps of 200 msec and often less, beat standard RTs, despite the complexity of response and the lag in speech production (600 msec or more). This can only be achieved by anticipation of timing and content of turns in conversation, about which little is known. Using EEG and an experimental task with conversational stimuli, we show that estimation of turn durations are based on anticipating the way the turn would be completed. We found a neuronal correlate of turn-end anticipation localized in ACC and inferior parietal lobule, namely a beta-frequency desynchronization as early as 1250 msec, before the end of the turn. We suggest that anticipation of the other's utterance leads to accurately timed transitions in everyday conversations.
Pacheco, A., Araújo, S., Faísca, L., de Castro, S. L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2014). Dyslexia's heterogeneity: Cognitive profiling of Portuguese children with dyslexia. Reading and Writing, 27(9), 1529-1545. doi:10.1007/s11145-014-9504-5.
AbstractRecent studies have emphasized that developmental dyslexia is a multiple-deficit disorder, in contrast to the traditional single-deficit view. In this context, cognitive profiling of children with dyslexia may be a relevant contribution to this unresolved discussion. The aim of this study was to profile 36 Portuguese children with dyslexia from the 2nd to 5th grade. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to group participants according to their phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, verbal short-term memory, vocabulary, and nonverbal intelligence abilities. The results suggested a two-cluster solution: a group with poorer performance on phoneme deletion and rapid automatized naming compared with the remaining variables (Cluster 1) and a group characterized by underperforming on the variables most related to phonological processing (phoneme deletion and digit span), but not on rapid automatized naming (Cluster 2). Overall, the results seem more consistent with a hybrid perspective, such as that proposed by Pennington and colleagues (2012), for understanding the heterogeneity of dyslexia. The importance of characterizing the profiles of individuals with dyslexia becomes clear within the context of constructing remediation programs that are specifically targeted and are more effective in terms of intervention outcome.
Peeters, D., Runnqvist, E., Bertrand, D., & Grainger, J. (2014). Asymmetrical switch costs in bilingual language production induced by reading words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(1), 284-292. doi:10.1037/a0034060.
AbstractWe examined language-switching effects in French–English bilinguals using a paradigm where pictures are always named in the same language (either French or English) within a block of trials, and on each trial, the picture is preceded by a printed word from the same language or from the other language. Participants had to either make a language decision on the word or categorize it as an animal name or not. Picture-naming latencies in French (Language 1 [L1]) were slower when pictures were preceded by an English word than by a French word, independently of the task performed on the word. There were no language-switching effects when pictures were named in English (L2). This pattern replicates asymmetrical switch costs found with the cued picture-naming paradigm and shows that the asymmetrical pattern can be obtained (a) in the absence of artificial (nonlinguistic) language cues, (b) when the switch involves a shift from comprehension in 1 language to production in another, and (c) when the naming language is blocked (univalent response). We concluded that language switch costs in bilinguals cannot be reduced to effects driven by task control or response-selection mechanisms.
Peeters, D., & Dresler, M. (2014). The scientific significance of sleep-talking. Frontiers for Young Minds, 2(9). Retrieved from http://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/24/the_scientific_significance_of_sleep_talking/.
AbstractDid one of your parents, siblings, or friends ever tell you that you were talking in your sleep? Nothing to be ashamed of! A recent study found that more than half of all people have had the experience of speaking out loud while being asleep . This might even be underestimated, because often people do not notice that they are sleep-talking, unless somebody wakes them up or tells them the next day. Most neuroscientists, linguists, and psychologists studying language are interested in our language production and language comprehension skills during the day. In the present article, we will explore what is known about the production of overt speech during the night. We suggest that the study of sleep-talking may be just as interesting and informative as the study of wakeful speech.
Piai, V., Roelofs, A., Jensen, O., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Bonnefond, M. (2014). Distinct patterns of brain activity characterise lexical activation and competition in spoken word production. PLoS One, 9(2): e88674. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088674.
AbstractAccording to a prominent theory of language production, concepts activate multiple associated words in memory, which enter into competition for selection. However, only a few electrophysiological studies have identified brain responses reflecting competition. Here, we report a magnetoencephalography study in which the activation of competing words was manipulated by presenting pictures (e.g., dog) with distractor words. The distractor and picture name were semantically related (cat), unrelated (pin), or identical (dog). Related distractors are stronger competitors to the picture name because they receive additional activation from the picture relative to other distractors. Picture naming times were longer with related than unrelated and identical distractors. Phase-locked and non-phase-locked activity were distinct but temporally related. Phase-locked activity in left temporal cortex, peaking at 400 ms, was larger on unrelated than related and identical trials, suggesting differential activation of alternative words by the picture-word stimuli. Non-phase-locked activity between roughly 350–650 ms (4–10 Hz) in left superior frontal gyrus was larger on related than unrelated and identical trials, suggesting differential resolution of the competition among the alternatives, as reflected in the naming times. These findings characterise distinct patterns of activity associated with lexical activation and competition, supporting the theory that words are selected by competition.
Schoot, L., Menenti, L., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2014). A little more conversation - The influence of communicative context on syntactic priming in brain and behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 208. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00208.
AbstractWe report on an fMRI syntactic priming experiment in which we measure brain activity for participants who communicate with another participant outside the scanner. We investigated whether syntactic processing during overt language production and comprehension is influenced by having a (shared) goal to communicate. Although theory suggests this is true, the nature of this influence remains unclear. Two hypotheses are tested: i. syntactic priming effects (fMRI and RT) are stronger for participants in the communicative context than for participants doing the same experiment in a non-communicative context, and ii. syntactic priming magnitude (RT) is correlated with the syntactic priming magnitude of the speaker’s communicative partner. Results showed that across conditions, participants were faster to produce sentences with repeated syntax, relative to novel syntax. This behavioral result converged with the fMRI data: we found repetition suppression effects in the left insula extending into left inferior frontal gyrus (BA 47/45), left middle temporal gyrus (BA 21), left inferior parietal cortex (BA 40), left precentral gyrus (BA 6), bilateral precuneus (BA 7), bilateral supplementary motor cortex (BA 32/8) and right insula (BA 47). We did not find support for the first hypothesis: having a communicative intention does not increase the magnitude of syntactic priming effects (either in the brain or in behavior) per se. We did find support for the second hypothesis: if speaker A is strongly/weakly primed by speaker B, then speaker B is primed by speaker A to a similar extent. We conclude that syntactic processing is influenced by being in a communicative context, and that the nature of this influence is bi-directional: speakers are influenced by each other.
Segaert, K., Weber, K., Cladder-Micus, M., & Hagoort, P. (2014). The influence of verb-bound syntactic preferences on the processing of syntactic structures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(5), 1448-1460. doi:10.1037/a0036796.
AbstractSpeakers sometimes repeat syntactic structures across sentences, a phenomenon called syntactic priming. We investigated the influence of verb-bound syntactic preferences on syntactic priming effects in response choices and response latencies for German ditransitive sentences. In the response choices we found inverse preference effects: There were stronger syntactic priming effects for primes in the less preferred structure, given the syntactic preference of the prime verb. In the response latencies we found positive preference effects: There were stronger syntactic priming effects for primes in the more preferred structure, given the syntactic preference of the prime verb. These findings provide further support for the idea that syntactic processing is lexically guided.
Shao, Z., Roelofs, A., Acheson, D. J., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Electrophysiological evidence that inhibition supports lexical selection in picture naming. Brain Research, 1586, 130-142. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.07.009.
AbstractWe investigated the neural basis of inhibitory control during lexical selection. Participants overtly named pictures while response times (RTs) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded. The difficulty of lexical selection was manipulated by using object and action pictures with high name agreement (few response candidates) versus low name agreement (many response candidates). To assess the involvement of inhibition, we conducted delta plot analyses of naming RTs and examined the N2 component of the ERP. We found longer mean naming RTs and a larger N2 amplitude in the low relative to the high name agreement condition. For action naming we found a negative correlation between the slopes of the slowest delta segment and the difference in N2 amplitude between the low and high name agreement conditions. The converging behavioral and electrophysiological evidence suggests that selective inhibition is engaged to reduce competition during lexical selection in picture naming.
Silva, S., Branco, P., Barbosa, F., Marques-Teixeira, J., Petersson, K. M., & Castro, S. L. (2014). Musical phrase boundaries, wrap-up and the closure positive shift. Brain Research, 1585, 99-107. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.08.025.
AbstractWe investigated global integration (wrap-up) processes at the boundaries of musical phrases by comparing the effects of well and non-well formed phrases on event-related potentials time-locked to two boundary points: the onset and the offset of the boundary pause. The Closure Positive Shift, which is elicited at the boundary offset, was not modulated by the quality of phrase structure (well vs. non-well formed). In contrast, the boundary onset potentials showed different patterns for well and non-well formed phrases. Our results contribute to specify the functional meaning of the Closure Positive Shift in music, shed light on the large-scale structural integration of musical input, and raise new hypotheses concerning shared resources between music and language.
Silva, S., Barbosa, F., Marques-Teixeira, J., Petersson, K. M., & Castro, S. L. (2014). You know when: Event-related potentials and theta/beat power indicate boundary prediction in music. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience, 13(1), 19-34. doi:10.1142/S0219635214500022.
AbstractNeuroscientific and musicological approaches to music cognition indicate that listeners familiarized in the Western tonal tradition expect a musical phrase boundary at predictable time intervals. However, phrase boundary prediction processes in music remain untested. We analyzed event-related potentials (ERPs) and event-related induced power changes at the onset and offset of a boundary pause. We made comparisons with modified melodies, where the pause was omitted and filled by tones. The offset of the pause elicited a closure positive shift (CPS), indexing phrase boundary detection. The onset of the filling tones elicited significant increases in theta and beta powers. In addition, the P2 component was larger when the filling tones started than when they ended. The responses to boundary omission suggest that listeners expected to hear a boundary pause. Therefore, boundary prediction seems to coexist with boundary detection in music segmentation.
Simanova, I., Hagoort, P., Oostenveld, R., & Van Gerven, M. A. J. (2014). Modality-independent decoding of semantic information from the human brain. Cerebral Cortex, 24, 426-434. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs324.
AbstractAn ability to decode semantic information from fMRI spatial patterns has been demonstrated in previous studies mostly for 1 specific input modality. In this study, we aimed to decode semantic category independent of the modality in which an object was presented. Using a searchlight method, we were able to predict the stimulus category from the data while participants performed a semantic categorization task with 4 stimulus modalities (spoken and written names, photographs, and natural sounds). Significant classification performance was achieved in all 4 modalities. Modality-independent decoding was implemented by training and testing the searchlight method across modalities. This allowed the localization of those brain regions, which correctly discriminated between the categories, independent of stimulus modality. The analysis revealed large clusters of voxels in the left inferior temporal cortex and in frontal regions. These voxels also allowed category discrimination in a free recall session where subjects recalled the objects in the absence of external stimuli. The results show that semantic information can be decoded from the fMRI signal independently of the input modality and have clear implications for understanding the functional mechanisms of semantic memory.
Stolk, A., Noordzij, M. L., Verhagen, L., Volman, I., Schoffelen, J.-M., Oostenveld, R., Hagoort, P., & Toni, I. (2014). Cerebral coherence between communicators marks the emergence of meaning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111, 18183-18188. doi:10.1073/pnas.1414886111.
AbstractHow can we understand each other during communicative interactions? An influential suggestion holds that communicators are primed by each other’s behaviors, with associative mechanisms automatically coordinating the production of communicative signals and the comprehension of their meanings. An alternative suggestion posits that mutual understanding requires shared conceptualizations of a signal’s use, i.e., “conceptual pacts” that are abstracted away from specific experiences. Both accounts predict coherent neural dynamics across communicators, aligned either to the occurrence of a signal or to the dynamics of conceptual pacts. Using coherence spectral-density analysis of cerebral activity simultaneously measured in pairs of communicators, this study shows that establishing mutual understanding of novel signals synchronizes cerebral dynamics across communicators’ right temporal lobes. This interpersonal cerebral coherence occurred only within pairs with a shared communicative history, and at temporal scales independent from signals’ occurrences. These findings favor the notion that meaning emerges from shared conceptualizations of a signal’s use.
Stolk, A., Noordzij, M. L., Volman, I., Verhagen, L., Overeem, S., van Elswijk, G., Bloem, B., Hagoort, P., & Toni, I. (2014). Understanding communicative actions: A repetitive TMS study. Cortex, 51, 25-34. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2013.10.005.
AbstractDespite the ambiguity inherent in human communication, people are remarkably efficient in establishing mutual understanding. Studying how people communicate in novel settings provides a window into the mechanisms supporting the human competence to rapidly generate and understand novel shared symbols, a fundamental property of human communication. Previous work indicates that the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) is involved when people understand the intended meaning of novel communicative actions. Here, we set out to test whether normal functioning of this cerebral structure is required for understanding novel communicative actions using inhibitory low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). A factorial experimental design contrasted two tightly matched stimulation sites (right pSTS vs. left MT+, i.e. a contiguous homotopic task-relevant region) and tasks (a communicative task vs. a visual tracking task that used the same sequences of stimuli). Overall task performance was not affected by rTMS, whereas changes in task performance over time were disrupted according to TMS site and task combinations. Namely, rTMS over pSTS led to a diminished ability to improve action understanding on the basis of recent communicative history, while rTMS over MT+ perturbed improvement in visual tracking over trials. These findings qualify the contributions of the right pSTS to human communicative abilities, showing that this region might be necessary for incorporating previous knowledge, accumulated during interactions with a communicative partner, to constrain the inferential process that leads to action understanding.
Takashima, A., Wagensveld, B., Van Turennout, M., Zwitserlood, P., Hagoort, P., & Verhoeven, L. (2014). Training-induced neural plasticity in visual-word decoding and the role of syllables. Neuropsychologia, 61, 299-314. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.06.017.
AbstractTo investigate the neural underpinnings of word decoding, and how it changes as a function of repeated exposure, we trained Dutch participants repeatedly over the course of a month of training to articulate a set of novel disyllabic input strings written in Greek script to avoid the use of familiar orthographic representations. The syllables in the input were phonotactically legal combinations but non-existent in the Dutch language, allowing us to assess their role in novel word decoding. Not only trained disyllabic pseudowords were tested but also pseudowords with recombined patterns of syllables to uncover the emergence of syllabic representations. We showed that with extensive training, articulation became faster and more accurate for the trained pseudowords. On the neural level, the initial stage of decoding was reflected by increased activity in visual attention areas of occipito-temporal and occipito-parietal cortices, and in motor coordination areas of the precentral gyrus and the inferior frontal gyrus. After one month of training, memory representations for holistic information (whole word unit) were established in areas encompassing the angular gyrus, the precuneus and the middle temporal gyrus. Syllabic representations also emerged through repeated training of disyllabic pseudowords, such that reading recombined syllables of the trained pseudowords showed similar brain activation to trained pseudowords and were articulated faster than novel combinations of letter strings used in the trained pseudowords.
Tsuji, S., & Cristia, A. (2014). Perceptual attunement in vowels: A meta-analysis. Developmental Psychobiology, 56(2), 179-191. doi:10.1002/dev.21179.
AbstractAlthough the majority of evidence on perceptual narrowing in speech sounds is based on consonants, most models of infant speech perception generalize these findings to vowels, assuming that vowel perception improves for vowel sounds that are present in the infant's native language within the first year of life, and deteriorates for non-native vowel sounds over the same period of time. The present meta-analysis contributes to assessing to what extent these descriptions are accurate in the first comprehensive quantitative meta-analysis of perceptual narrowing in infant vowel discrimination, including results from behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging methods applied to infants 0–14 months of age. An analysis of effect sizes for native and non-native vowel discrimination over the first year of life revealed that they changed with age in opposite directions, being significant by about 6 months of age
Van Leeuwen, T. M., Lamers, M. J. A., Petersson, K. M., Gussenhoven, C., Poser, B., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Phonological markers of information structure: An fMRI study. Neuropsychologia, 58(1), 64-74. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.03.017.
AbstractIn this fMRI study we investigate the neural correlates of information structure integration during sentence comprehension in Dutch. We looked into how prosodic cues (pitch accents) that signal the information status of constituents to the listener (new information) are combined with other types of information during the unification process. The difficulty of unifying the prosodic cues into overall sentence meaning was manipulated by constructing sentences in which the pitch accent did (focus-accent agreement), and sentences in which the pitch accent did not (focus-accent disagreement) match the expectations for focus constituents of the sentence. In case of a mismatch, the load on unification processes increases. Our results show two anatomically distinct effects of focus-accent disagreement, one located in the posterior left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG, BA6/44), and one in the more anterior-ventral LIFG (BA 47/45). Our results confirm that information structure is taken into account during unification, and imply an important role for the LIFG in unification processes, in line with previous fMRI studies.
Veenstra, A., Acheson, D. J., Bock, K., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Effects of semantic integration on subject–verb agreement: Evidence from Dutch. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29(3), 355-380. doi:10.1080/01690965.2013.862284.
AbstractThe generation of subject–verb agreement is a central component of grammatical encoding. It is sensitive to conceptual and grammatical influences, but the interplay between these factors is still not fully understood. We investigate how semantic integration of the subject noun phrase (‘the secretary of/with the governor’) and the Local Noun Number (‘the secretary with the governor/governors’) affect the ease of selecting the verb form. Two hypotheses are assessed: according to the notional hypothesis, integration encourages the assignment of the singular notional number to the noun phrase and facilitates the choice of the singular verb form. According to the lexical interference hypothesis, integration strengthens the competition between nouns within the subject phrase, making it harder to select the verb form when the nouns mismatch in number. In two experiments, adult speakers of Dutch completed spoken preambles (Experiment 1) or selected appropriate verb forms (Experiment 2). Results showed facilitatory effects of semantic integration (fewer errors and faster responses with increasing integration). These effects did not interact with the effects of the Local Noun Number (slower response times and higher error rates for mismatching than for matching noun numbers). The findings thus support the notional hypothesis and a model of agreement where conceptual and lexical factors independently contribute to the determination of the number of the subject noun phrase and, ultimately, the verb.
Veenstra, A., Acheson, D. J., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Keeping it simple: Studying grammatical encoding with lexically-reduced item sets. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 783. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00783.
AbstractCompared to the large body of work on lexical access, little research has been done on grammatical encoding in language production. An exception is the generation of subject-verb agreement. Here, two key findings have been reported: (1) Speakers make more agreement errors when the head and local noun of a phrase mismatch in number than when they match (e.g., the key to the cabinet(s)); and (2) this attraction effect is asymmetric, with stronger attraction for singular than for plural head nouns. Although these findings are robust, the cognitive processes leading to agreement errors and their significance for the generation of correct agreement are not fully understood. We propose that future studies of agreement, and grammatical encoding in general, may benefit from using paradigms that tightly control the variability of the lexical content of the material. We report two experiments illustrating this approach. In both of them, the experimental items featured combinations of four nouns, four color adjectives, and two prepositions. In Experiment 1, native speakers of Dutch described pictures in sentences such as the circle next to the stars is blue. In Experiment 2, they carried out a forced-choice task, where they read subject noun phrases (e.g., the circle next to the stars) and selected the correct verb-phrase (is blue or are blue) with a button press. Both experiments showed an attraction effect, with more errors after subject phrases with mismatching, compared to matching head and local nouns. This effect was stronger for singular than plural heads, replicating the attraction asymmetry. In contrast, the response times recorded in Experiment 2 showed similar attraction effects for singular and plural head nouns. These results demonstrate that critical agreement phenomena can be elicited reliably in lexically-reduced contexts. We discuss the theoretical implications of the findings and the potential and limitations of studies using lexically simple materials.
Wegman, J., Fonteijn, H. M., van Ekert, J., Tyborowska, A., Jansen, C., & Janzen, G. (2014). Gray and white matter correlates of navigational ability in humans. Human Brain Mapping, 35(6), 2561-2572. doi:10.1002/hbm.22349.
AbstractHumans differ widely in their navigational abilities. Studies have shown that self-reports on navigational abilities are good predictors of performance on navigation tasks in real and virtual environments. The caudate nucleus and medial temporal lobe regions have been suggested to subserve different navigational strategies. The ability to use different strategies might underlie navigational ability differences. This study examines the anatomical correlates of self-reported navigational ability in both gray and white matter. Local gray matter volume was compared between a group (N = 134) of good and bad navigators using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), as well as regional volumes. To compare between good and bad navigators, we also measured white matter anatomy using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and looked at fractional anisotropy (FA) values. We observed a trend toward higher local GM volume in right anterior parahippocampal/rhinal cortex for good versus bad navigators. Good male navigators showed significantly higher local GM volume in right hippocampus than bad male navigators. Conversely, bad navigators showed increased FA values in the internal capsule, the white matter bundle closest to the caudate nucleus and a trend toward higher local GM volume in the caudate nucleus. Furthermore, caudate nucleus regional volume correlated negatively with navigational ability. These convergent findings across imaging modalities are in line with findings showing that the caudate nucleus and the medial temporal lobes are involved in different wayfinding strategies. Our study is the first to show a link between self-reported large-scale navigational abilities and different measures of brain anatomy.
Additional informationhttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hbm.22349/suppinfo hbm22349-sup-0001-suppinfo.doc
Whitmarsh, S., Barendregt, H., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Jensen, O. (2014). Metacognitive awareness of covert somatosensory attention corresponds to contralateral alpha power. NeuroImage, 85(2), 803-809. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.07.031.
AbstractStudies on metacognition have shown that participants can report on their performance on a wide range of perceptual, memory and behavioral tasks. We know little, however, about the ability to report on one's attentional focus. The degree and direction of somatosensory attention can, however, be readily discerned through suppression of alpha band frequencies in EEG/MEG produced by the somatosensory cortex. Such top-down attentional modulations of cortical excitability have been shown to result in better discrimination performance and decreased response times. In this study we asked whether the degree of attentional focus is also accessible for subjective report, and whether such evaluations correspond to the amount of somatosensory alpha activity. In response to auditory cues participants maintained somatosensory attention to either their left or right hand for intervals varying randomly between 5 and 32seconds, while their brain activity was recorded with MEG. Trials were terminated by a probe sound, to which they reported their level of attention on the cued hand right before probe-onset. Using a beamformer approach, we quantified the alpha activity in left and right somatosensory regions, one second before the probe. Alpha activity from contra- and ipsilateral somatosensory cortices for high versus low attention trials were compared. As predicted, the contralateral somatosensory alpha depression correlated with higher reported attentional focus. Finally, alpha activity two to three seconds before the probe-onset was correlated with attentional focus. We conclude that somatosensory attention is indeed accessible to metacognitive awareness.
Willems, R. M., Van der Haegen, L., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2014). On the other hand: Including left-handers in cognitive neuroscience and neurogenetics. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15, 193-201. doi:10.1038/nrn3679.
AbstractLeft-handers are often excluded from study cohorts in neuroscience and neurogenetics in order to reduce variance in the data. However, recent investigations have shown that the inclusion or targeted recruitment of left-handers can be informative in studies on a range of topics, such as cerebral lateralization and the genetic underpinning of asymmetrical brain development. Left-handed individuals represent a substantial portion of the human population and therefore left-handedness falls within the normal range of human diversity; thus, it is important to account for this variation in our understanding of brain functioning. We call for neuroscientists and neurogeneticists to recognize the potential of studying this often-discarded group of research subjects.
Willems, R. M., & Francks, C. (2014). Your left-handed brain. Frontiers for Young Minds, 2: 13. doi:10.3389/frym.2014.00013.
AbstractWhile most people prefer to use their right hand to brush their teeth, throw a ball, or hold a tennis racket, left-handers prefer to use their left hand. This is the case for around 10 per cent of all people. There was a time (not so long ago) when left-handers were stigmatized in Western (and other) communities: it was considered a bad sign if you were left-handed, and left-handed children were often forced to write with their right hand. This is nonsensical: there is nothing wrong with being left-handed, and trying to write with the non-preferred hand is frustrating for almost everybody. As a matter of fact, science can learn from left-handers, and in this paper, we discuss how this may be the case. We review why some people are left-handed and others are not, how left-handers' brains differ from right-handers’, and why scientists study left-handedness in the first place
De Zubicaray, G. I., Hartsuiker, R. J., & Acheson, D. J. (2014). Mind what you say—general and specific mechanisms for monitoring in speech production. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 514. doi:10.3389%2Ffnhum.2014.00514.
AbstractFor most people, speech production is relatively effortless and error-free. Yet it has long been recognized that we need some type of control over what we are currently saying and what we plan to say. Precisely how we monitor our internal and external speech has been a topic of research interest for several decades. The predominant approach in psycholinguistics has assumed monitoring of both is accomplished via systems responsible for comprehending others' speech. This special topic aimed to broaden the field, firstly by examining proposals that speech production might also engage more general systems, such as those involved in action monitoring. A second aim was to examine proposals for a production-specific, internal monitor. Both aims require that we also specify the nature of the representations subject to monitoring.
Zumer, J. M., Scheeringa, R., Schoffelen, J.-M., Norris, D. G., & Jensen, O. (2014). Occipital alpha activity during stimulus processing gates the information flow to object-selective cortex. PLoS Biology, 12(10): e1001965. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001965.
AbstractGiven the limited processing capabilities of the sensory system, it is essential that attended information is gated to downstream areas, whereas unattended information is blocked. While it has been proposed that alpha band (8–13 Hz) activity serves to route information to downstream regions by inhibiting neuronal processing in task-irrelevant regions, this hypothesis remains untested. Here we investigate how neuronal oscillations detected by electroencephalography in visual areas during working memory encoding serve to gate information reflected in the simultaneously recorded blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signals recorded by functional magnetic resonance imaging in downstream ventral regions. We used a paradigm in which 16 participants were presented with faces and landscapes in the right and left hemifields; one hemifield was attended and the other unattended. We observed that decreased alpha power contralateral to the attended object predicted the BOLD signal representing the attended object in ventral object-selective regions. Furthermore, increased alpha power ipsilateral to the attended object predicted a decrease in the BOLD signal representing the unattended object. We also found that the BOLD signal in the dorsal attention network inversely correlated with visual alpha power. This is the first demonstration, to our knowledge, that oscillations in the alpha band are implicated in the gating of information from the visual cortex to the ventral stream, as reflected in the representationally specific BOLD signal. This link of sensory alpha to downstream activity provides a neurophysiological substrate for the mechanism of selective attention during stimulus processing, which not only boosts the attended information but also suppresses distraction. Although previous studies have shown a relation between the BOLD signal from the dorsal attention network and the alpha band at rest, we demonstrate such a relation during a visuospatial task, indicating that the dorsal attention network exercises top-down control of visual alpha activity.