Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 118
  • Bakker-Marshall, I., Takashima, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Van Hell, J. G., Janzen, G., & McQueen, J. M. (2018). Theta-band Oscillations in the Middle Temporal Gyrus Reflect Novel Word Consolidation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(5), 621-633. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01240.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    13428_2017_929_MOESM1_ESM.docx
  • Ergin, R., Senghas, A., Jackendoff, R., & Gleitman, L. (2018). Structural cues for symmetry, asymmetry, and non-symmetry in Central Taurus Sign Language. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 104-106). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.025.
  • Ergin, R., Meir, I., Ilkbasaran, D., Padden, C., & Jackendoff, R. (2018). The Development of Argument Structure in Central Taurus Sign Language. Sign Language & Linguistics, 18(4), 612-639. doi:10.1353/sls.2018.0018.

    Abstract

    One of the fundamental issues for a language is its capacity to express argument structure unambiguously. This study presents evidence for the emergence and the incremental development of these basic mechanisms in a newly developing language, Central Taurus Sign Language. Our analyses identify universal patterns in both the emergence and development of these mechanisms and in languagespecific trajectories.
  • Flecken, M., & Von Stutterheim, C. (2018). Sprache und Kognition: Sprachvergleichende und lernersprachliche Untersuchungen zur Ereigniskonzeptualisierung. In S. Schimke, & H. Hopp (Eds.), Sprachverarbeitung im Zweitspracherwerb (pp. 325-356). Berlin: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110456356-014.
  • Francisco, A. A., Takashima, A., McQueen, J. M., Van den Bunt, M., Jesse, A., & Groen, M. A. (2018). Adult dyslexic readers benefit less from visual input during audiovisual speech processing: fMRI evidence. Neuropsychologia, 117, 454-471. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.009.

    Abstract

    The aim of the present fMRI study was to investigate whether typical and dyslexic adult readers differed in the neural correlates of audiovisual speech processing. We tested for Blood Oxygen-Level Dependent (BOLD) activity differences between these two groups in a 1-back task, as they processed written (word, illegal consonant strings) and spoken (auditory, visual and audiovisual) stimuli. When processing written stimuli, dyslexic readers showed reduced activity in the supramarginal gyrus, a region suggested to play an important role in phonological processing, but only when they processed strings of consonants, not when they read words. During the speech perception tasks, dyslexic readers were only slower than typical readers in their behavioral responses in the visual speech condition. Additionally, dyslexic readers presented reduced neural activation in the auditory, the visual, and the audiovisual speech conditions. The groups also differed in terms of superadditivity, with dyslexic readers showing decreased neural activation in the regions of interest. An additional analysis focusing on vision-related processing during the audiovisual condition showed diminished activation for the dyslexic readers in a fusiform gyrus cluster. Our results thus suggest that there are differences in audiovisual speech processing between dyslexic and normal readers. These differences might be explained by difficulties in processing the unisensory components of audiovisual speech, more specifically, dyslexic readers may benefit less from visual information during audiovisual speech processing than typical readers. Given that visual speech processing supports the development of phonological skills fundamental in reading, differences in processing of visual speech could contribute to differences in reading ability between typical and dyslexic readers.
  • Franken, M. K. (2018). Listening for speaking: Investigations of the relationship between speech perception and production. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Speaking and listening are complex tasks that we perform on a daily basis, almost without conscious effort. Interestingly, speaking almost never occurs without listening: whenever we speak, we at least hear our own speech. The research in this thesis is concerned with how the perception of our own speech influences our speaking behavior. We show that unconsciously, we actively monitor this auditory feedback of our own speech. This way, we can efficiently take action and adapt articulation when an error occurs and auditory feedback does not correspond to our expectation. Processing the auditory feedback of our speech does not, however, automatically affect speech production. It is subject to a number of constraints. For example, we do not just track auditory feedback, but also its consistency. If auditory feedback is more consistent over time, it has a stronger influence on speech production. In addition, we investigated how auditory feedback during speech is processed in the brain, using magnetoencephalography (MEG). The results suggest the involvement of a broad cortical network including both auditory and motor-related regions. This is consistent with the view that the auditory center of the brain is involved in comparing auditory feedback to our expectation of auditory feedback. If this comparison yields a mismatch, motor-related regions of the brain can be recruited to alter the ongoing articulations.

    Additional information

    full text via Radboud Repository
  • Franken, M. K., Eisner, F., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). Self-monitoring in the cerebral cortex: Neural responses to pitch-perturbed auditory feedback during speech production. NeuroImage, 179, 326-336. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.06.061.

    Abstract

    Speaking is a complex motor skill which requires near instantaneous integration of sensory and motor-related information. Current theory hypothesizes a complex interplay between motor and auditory processes during speech production, involving the online comparison of the speech output with an internally generated forward model. To examine the neural correlates of this intricate interplay between sensory and motor processes, the current study uses altered auditory feedback (AAF) in combination with magnetoencephalography (MEG). Participants vocalized the vowel/e/and heard auditory feedback that was temporarily pitch-shifted by only 25 cents, while neural activity was recorded with MEG. As a control condition, participants also heard the recordings of the same auditory feedback that they heard in the first half of the experiment, now without vocalizing. The participants were not aware of any perturbation of the auditory feedback. We found auditory cortical areas responded more strongly to the pitch shifts during vocalization. In addition, auditory feedback perturbation resulted in spectral power increases in the θ and lower β bands, predominantly in sensorimotor areas. These results are in line with current models of speech production, suggesting auditory cortical areas are involved in an active comparison between a forward model's prediction and the actual sensory input. Subsequently, these areas interact with motor areas to generate a motor response. Furthermore, the results suggest that θ and β power increases support auditory-motor interaction, motor error detection and/or sensory prediction processing.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Eisner, F. (2018). Opposing and following responses in sensorimotor speech control: Why responses go both ways. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(4), 1458-1467. doi:10.3758/s13423-018-1494-x.

    Abstract

    When talking, speakers continuously monitor and use the auditory feedback of their own voice to control and inform speech production processes. When speakers are provided with auditory feedback that is perturbed in real time, most of them compensate for this by opposing the feedback perturbation. But some speakers follow the perturbation. In the current study, we investigated whether the state of the speech production system at perturbation onset may determine what type of response (opposing or following) is given. The results suggest that whether a perturbation-related response is opposing or following depends on ongoing fluctuations of the production system: It initially responds by doing the opposite of what it was doing. This effect and the non-trivial proportion of following responses suggest that current production models are inadequate: They need to account for why responses to unexpected sensory feedback depend on the production-system’s state at the time of perturbation.
  • De Groot, A. M. B., & Hagoort, P. (Eds.). (2018). Research methods in psycholinguistics and the neurobiology of language: A practical guide. Oxford: Wiley.
  • Hagoort, P. (2018). Prerequisites for an evolutionary stance on the neurobiology of language. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 21, 191-194. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.05.012.
  • Hahn, L. E., Benders, T., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2018). Infants' sensitivity to rhyme in songs. Infant Behavior and Development, 52, 130-139. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2018.07.002.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    Recent decades have ushered in tremendous progress in understanding the neural basis of language. Most of our current knowledge on language and the brain, however, is derived from lab-based experiments that are far removed from everyday language use, and that are inspired by questions originating in linguistic and psycholinguistic contexts. In this paper we argue that in order to make progress, the field needs to shift its focus to understanding the neurobiology of naturalistic language comprehension. We present here a new conceptual framework for understanding the neurobiological organization of language comprehension. This framework is non-language-centered in the computational/neurobiological constructs it identifies, and focuses strongly on context. Our core arguments address three general issues: (i) the difficulty in extending language-centric explanations to discourse; (ii) the necessity of taking context as a serious topic of study, modeling it formally and acknowledging the limitations on external validity when studying language comprehension outside context; and (iii) the tenuous status of the language network as an explanatory construct. We argue that adopting this framework means that neurobiological studies of language will be less focused on identifying correlations between brain activity patterns and mechanisms postulated by psycholinguistic theories. Instead, they will be less self-referential and increasingly more inclined towards integration of language with other cognitive systems, ultimately doing more justice to the neurobiological organization of language and how it supports language as it is used in everyday life.
  • Hervais-Adelman, A., Egorova, N., & Golestani, N. (2018). Beyond bilingualism: Multilingual experience correlates with caudate volume. Brain Structure and Function, 223(7), 3495-3502. doi:10.1007/s00429-018-1695-0.

    Abstract

    The multilingual brain implements mechanisms that serve to select the appropriate language as a function of the communicative environment. Engaging these mechanisms on a regular basis appears to have consequences for brain structure and function. Studies have implicated the caudate nuclei as important nodes in polyglot language control processes, and have also shown structural differences in the caudate nuclei in bilingual compared to monolingual populations. However, the majority of published work has focused on the categorical differences between monolingual and bilingual individuals, and little is known about whether these findings extend to multilingual individuals, who have even greater language control demands. In the present paper, we present an analysis of the volume and morphology of the caudate nuclei, putamen, pallidum and thalami in 75 multilingual individuals who speak three or more languages. Volumetric analyses revealed a significant relationship between multilingual experience and right caudate volume, as well as a marginally significant relationship with left caudate volume. Vertex-wise analyses revealed a significant enlargement of dorsal and anterior portions of the left caudate nucleus, known to have connectivity with executive brain regions, as a function of multilingual expertise. These results suggest that multilingual expertise might exercise a continuous impact on brain structure, and that as additional languages beyond a second are acquired, the additional demands for linguistic and cognitive control result in modifications to brain structures associated with language management processes.
  • Hervais-Adelman, A., Moser-Mercer, B., & Golestani, N. (2018). Commentary: Broca pars triangularis constitutes a “hub” of the language-control network during simultaneous language translation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12: 22. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00022.

    Abstract

    A commentary on Broca Pars Triangularis Constitutes a “Hub” of the Language-Control Network during Simultaneous Language Translation by Elmer, S. (2016). Front. Hum. Neurosci. 10:491. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00491 Elmer (2016) conducted an fMRI investigation of “simultaneous language translation” in five participants. The article presents group and individual analyses of German-to-Italian and Italian-to-German translation, confined to a small set of anatomical regions previously reported to be involved in multilingual control. Here we take the opportunity to discuss concerns regarding certain aspects of the study.
  • Heyselaar, E., Mazaheri, A., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2018). Changes in alpha activity reveal that social opinion modulates attention allocation during face processing. NeuroImage, 174, 432-440. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.03.034.

    Abstract

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

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

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

    Abstract

    We present the Narrative Brain Dataset, an fMRI dataset that was collected during spoken presentation of short excerpts of three stories in Dutch. Together with the brain imaging data, the dataset contains the written versions of the stimulation texts. The texts are accompanied with stochastic (perplexity and entropy) and semantic computational linguistic measures. The richness and unconstrained nature of the data allows the study of language processing in the brain in a more naturalistic setting than is common for fMRI studies. We hope that by making NBD available we serve the double purpose of providing useful neural data to researchers interested in natural language processing in the brain and to further stimulate data sharing in the field of neuroscience of language.
  • Manahova, M. E., Mostert, P., Kok, P., Schoffelen, J.-M., & De Lange, F. P. (2018). Stimulus familiarity and expectation jointly modulate neural activity in the visual ventral stream. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(9), 1366-1377. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01281.

    Abstract

    Prior knowledge about the visual world can change how a visual stimulus is processed. Two forms of prior knowledge are often distinguished: stimulus familiarity (i.e., whether a stimulus has been seen before) and stimulus expectation (i.e., whether a stimulus is expected to occur, based on the context). Neurophysiological studies in monkeys have shown suppression of spiking activity both for expected and for familiar items in object-selective inferotemporal cortex. It is an open question, however, if and how these types of knowledge interact in their modulatory effects on the sensory response. To address this issue and to examine whether previous findings generalize to noninvasively measured neural activity in humans, we separately manipulated stimulus familiarity and expectation while noninvasively recording human brain activity using magnetoencephalography. We observed independent suppression of neural activity by familiarity and expectation, specifically in the lateral occipital complex, the putative human homologue of monkey inferotemporal cortex. Familiarity also led to sharpened response dynamics, which was predominantly observed in early visual cortex. Together, these results show that distinct types of sensory knowledge jointly determine the amount of neural resources dedicated to object processing in the visual ventral stream.
  • Meyer, A. S., Alday, P. M., Decuyper, C., & Knudsen, B. (2018). Working together: Contributions of corpus analyses and experimental psycholinguistics to understanding conversation. Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 525. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00525.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    Data_Sheet_1.pdf
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Politzer-Ahles, S., Heyselaar, E., Segaert, K., Darley, E., Kazanina, N., Von Grebmer Zu Wolfsthurn, S., Bartolozzi, F., Kogan, V., Ito, A., Mézière, D., Barr, D. J., Rousselet, G., Ferguson, H. J., Busch-Moreno, S., Fu, X., Tuomainen, J., Kulakova, E., Husband, E. M., Donaldson, D. I. and 3 moreNieuwland, M. S., Politzer-Ahles, S., Heyselaar, E., Segaert, K., Darley, E., Kazanina, N., Von Grebmer Zu Wolfsthurn, S., Bartolozzi, F., Kogan, V., Ito, A., Mézière, D., Barr, D. J., Rousselet, G., Ferguson, H. J., Busch-Moreno, S., Fu, X., Tuomainen, J., Kulakova, E., Husband, E. M., Donaldson, D. I., Kohút, Z., Rueschemeyer, S.-A., & Huettig, F. (2018). Large-scale replication study reveals a limit on probabilistic prediction in language comprehension. eLife, 7: e33468. doi:10.7554/eLife.33468.

    Abstract

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

    Additional information

    Data sets
  • Niso, G., Gorgolewski, K. J., Bock, E., Brooks, T. L., Flandin, G., Gramfort, A., Henson, R. N., Jas, M., Litvak, V., Moreau, J. T., Oostenveld, R., Schoffelen, J.-M., Tadel, F., Wexler, J., & Baillet, S. (2018). MEG-BIDS, the brain imaging data structure extended to magnetoencephalography. Scientific Data, 5: 180110. doi:10.1038/sdata.2018.110.

    Abstract

    We present a significant extension of the Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) to support the specific aspects of magnetoencephalography (MEG) data. MEG measures brain activity with millisecond temporal resolution and unique source imaging capabilities. So far, BIDS was a solution to organise magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. The nature and acquisition parameters of MRI and MEG data are strongly dissimilar. Although there is no standard data format for MEG, we propose MEG-BIDS as a principled solution to store, organise, process and share the multidimensional data volumes produced by the modality. The standard also includes well-defined metadata, to facilitate future data harmonisation and sharing efforts. This responds to unmet needs from the multimodal neuroimaging community and paves the way to further integration of other techniques in electrophysiology. MEGBIDS builds on MRI-BIDS, extending BIDS to a multimodal data structure. We feature several dataanalytics software that have adopted MEG-BIDS, and a diverse sample of open MEG-BIDS data resources available to everyone.
  • Palva, J. M., Wang, S. H., Palva, S., Zhigalov, A., Monto, S., Brookes, M. J., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). Ghost interactions in MEG/EEG source space: A note of caution on inter-areal coupling measures. NeuroImage, 173, 632-643. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.02.032.

    Abstract

    When combined with source modeling, magneto- (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) can be used to study long-range interactions among cortical processes non-invasively. Estimation of such inter-areal connectivity is nevertheless hindered by instantaneous field spread and volume conduction, which artificially introduce linear correlations and impair source separability in cortical current estimates. To overcome the inflating effects of linear source mixing inherent to standard interaction measures, alternative phase- and amplitude-correlation based connectivity measures, such as imaginary coherence and orthogonalized amplitude correlation have been proposed. Being by definition insensitive to zero-lag correlations, these techniques have become increasingly popular in the identification of correlations that cannot be attributed to field spread or volume conduction. We show here, however, that while these measures are immune to the direct effects of linear mixing, they may still reveal large numbers of spurious false positive connections through field spread in the vicinity of true interactions. This fundamental problem affects both region-of-interest-based analyses and all-to-all connectome mappings. Most importantly, beyond defining and illustrating the problem of spurious, or “ghost” interactions, we provide a rigorous quantification of this effect through extensive simulations. Additionally, we further show that signal mixing also significantly limits the separability of neuronal phase and amplitude correlations. We conclude that spurious correlations must be carefully considered in connectivity analyses in MEG/EEG source space even when using measures that are immune to zero-lag correlations.
  • Pascucci, D., Hervais-Adelman, A., & Plomp, G. (2018). Gating by induced A-Gamma asynchrony in selective attention. Human Brain Mapping, 39(10), 3854-3870. doi:10.1002/hbm.24216.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    Bilinguals often switch languages as a function of the language background of their addressee. The control mechanisms supporting bilinguals' ability to select the contextually appropriate language are heavily debated. Here we present four experiments in which unbalanced bilinguals named pictures in their first language Dutch and their second language English in mixed and blocked contexts. Immersive virtual reality technology was used to increase the ecological validity of the cued language-switching paradigm. Behaviorally, we consistently observed symmetrical switch costs, reversed language dominance, and asymmetrical mixing costs. These findings indicate that unbalanced bilinguals apply sustained inhibition to their dominant L1 in mixed language settings. Consequent enhanced processing costs for the L1 in a mixed versus a blocked context were reflected by a sustained positive component in event-related potentials. Methodologically, the use of virtual reality opens up a wide range of possibilities to study language and communication in bilingual and other communicative settings.
  • Piai, V., Rommers, J., & Knight, R. T. (2018). Lesion evidence for a critical role of left posterior but not frontal areas in alpha–beta power decreases during context-driven word production. European Journal of Neuroscience, 48(7), 2622-2629. doi:10.1111/ejn.13695.

    Abstract

    Different frequency bands in the electroencephalogram are postulated to support distinct language functions. Studies have suggested that alpha–beta power decreases may index word-retrieval processes. In context-driven word retrieval, participants hear lead-in sentences that either constrain the final word (‘He locked the door with the’) or not (‘She walked in here with the’). The last word is shown as a picture to be named. Previous studies have consistently found alpha–beta power decreases prior to picture onset for constrained relative to unconstrained sentences, localised to the left lateral-temporal and lateral-frontal lobes. However, the relative contribution of temporal versus frontal areas to alpha–beta power decreases is unknown. We recorded the electroencephalogram from patients with stroke lesions encompassing the left lateral-temporal and inferior-parietal regions or left-lateral frontal lobe and from matched controls. Individual participant analyses revealed a behavioural sentence context facilitation effect in all participants, except for in the two patients with extensive lesions to temporal and inferior parietal lobes. We replicated the alpha–beta power decreases prior to picture onset in all participants, except for in the two same patients with extensive posterior lesions. Thus, whereas posterior lesions eliminated the behavioural and oscillatory context effect, frontal lesions did not. Hierarchical clustering analyses of all patients’ lesion profiles, and behavioural and electrophysiological effects identified those two patients as having a unique combination of lesion distribution and context effects. These results indicate a critical role for the left lateral-temporal and inferior parietal lobes, but not frontal cortex, in generating the alpha–beta power decreases underlying context- driven word production.
  • Poletiek, F. H., Conway, C. M., Ellefson, M. R., Lai, J., Bocanegra, B. R., & Christiansen, M. H. (2018). Under what conditions can recursion be learned? Effects of starting small in artificial grammar learning of recursive structure. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 2855-2889. doi:10.1111/cogs.12685.

    Abstract

    It has been suggested that external and/or internal limitations paradoxically may lead to superior learning, that is, the concepts of starting small and less is more (Elman, 1993; Newport, 1990). In this paper, we explore the type of incremental ordering during training that might help learning, and what mechanism explains this facilitation. We report four artificial grammar learning experiments with human participants. In Experiments 1a and 1b we found a beneficial effect of starting small using two types of simple recursive grammars: right‐branching and center‐embedding, with recursive embedded clauses in fixed positions and fixed length. This effect was replicated in Experiment 2 (N = 100). In Experiment 3 and 4, we used a more complex center‐embedded grammar with recursive loops in variable positions, producing strings of variable length. When participants were presented an incremental ordering of training stimuli, as in natural language, they were better able to generalize their knowledge of simple units to more complex units when the training input “grew” according to structural complexity, compared to when it “grew” according to string length. Overall, the results suggest that starting small confers an advantage for learning complex center‐embedded structures when the input is organized according to structural complexity.
  • Popov, T., Jensen, O., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). Dorsal and ventral cortices are coupled by cross-frequency interactions during working memory. NeuroImage, 178, 277-286. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.054.

    Abstract

    Oscillatory activity in the alpha and gamma bands is considered key in shaping functional brain architecture. Power increases in the high-frequency gamma band are typically reported in parallel to decreases in the low-frequency alpha band. However, their functional significance and in particular their interactions are not well understood. The present study shows that, in the context of an N-backworking memory task, alpha power decreases in the dorsal visual stream are related to gamma power increases in early visual areas. Granger causality analysis revealed directed interregional interactions from dorsal to ventral stream areas, in accordance with task demands. Present results reveal a robust, behaviorally relevant, and architectonically decisive power-to-power relationship between alpha and gamma activity. This relationship suggests that anatomically distant power fluctuations in oscillatory activity can link cerebral network dynamics on trial-by-trial basis during cognitive operations such as working memory
  • Popov, T., Oostenveld, R., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2018). FieldTrip made easy: An analysis protocol for group analysis of the auditory steady state brain response in time, frequency, and space. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12: 711. doi:10.3389/fnins.2018.00711.

    Abstract

    The auditory steady state evoked response (ASSR) is a robust and frequently utilized phenomenon in psychophysiological research. It reflects the auditory cortical response to an amplitude-modulated constant carrier frequency signal. The present report provides a concrete example of a group analysis of the EEG data from 29 healthy human participants, recorded during an ASSR paradigm, using the FieldTrip toolbox. First, we demonstrate sensor-level analysis in the time domain, allowing for a description of the event-related potentials (ERPs), as well as their statistical evaluation. Second, frequency analysis is applied to describe the spectral characteristics of the ASSR, followed by group level statistical analysis in the frequency domain. Third, we show how timeand frequency-domain analysis approaches can be combined in order to describe the temporal and spectral development of the ASSR. Finally, we demonstrate source reconstruction techniques to characterize the primary neural generators of the ASSR. Throughout, we pay special attention to explaining the design of the analysis pipeline for single subjects and for the group level analysis. The pipeline presented here can be adjusted to accommodate other experimental paradigms and may serve as a template for similar analyses.
  • Rommers, J., & Federmeier, K. D. (2018). Electrophysiological methods. In A. M. B. De Groot, & P. Hagoort (Eds.), Research methods in psycholinguistics and the neurobiology of language: A practical guide (pp. 247-265). Hoboken: Wiley.
  • Rommers, J., & Federmeier, K. D. (2018). Lingering expectations: A pseudo-repetition effect for words previously expected but not presented. NeuroImage, 183, 263-272. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.08.023.

    Abstract

    Prediction can help support rapid language processing. However, it is unclear whether prediction has downstream consequences, beyond processing in the moment. In particular, when a prediction is disconfirmed, does it linger, or is it suppressed? This study manipulated whether words were actually seen or were only expected, and probed their fate in memory by presenting the words (again) a few sentences later. If disconfirmed predictions linger, subsequent processing of the previously expected (but never presented) word should be similar to actual word repetition. At initial presentation, electrophysiological signatures of prediction disconfirmation demonstrated that participants had formed expectations. Further downstream, relative to unseen words, repeated words elicited a strong N400 decrease, an enhanced late positive complex (LPC), and late alpha band power decreases. Critically, like repeated words, words previously expected but not presented also attenuated the N400. This “pseudorepetition effect” suggests that disconfirmed predictions can linger at some stages of processing, and demonstrates that prediction has downstream consequences beyond rapid on-line processing
  • Rommers, J., & Federmeier, K. D. (2018). Predictability's aftermath: Downstream consequences of word predictability as revealed by repetition effects. Cortex, 101, 16-30. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2017.12.018.

    Abstract

    Stimulus processing in language and beyond is shaped by context, with predictability having a particularly well-attested influence on the rapid processes that unfold during the presentation of a word. But does predictability also have downstream consequences for the quality of the constructed representations? On the one hand, the ease of processing predictablewordsmight free up time or cognitive resources, allowing for relatively thorough processing of the input. On the other hand, predictabilitymight allowthe systemto run in a top-down “verificationmode”, at the expense of thorough stimulus processing. This electroencephalogram (EEG) study manipulated word predictability, which reduced N400 amplitude and inter-trial phase clustering (ITPC), and then probed the fate of the (un)predictable words in memory by presenting them again. More thorough processing of predictable words should increase repetition effects, whereas less thorough processing should decrease them. Repetition was reflected in N400 decreases, late positive complex (LPC) enhancements, and late alpha/beta band power decreases. Critically, prior predictability tended to reduce the repetition effect on the N400, suggesting less priming, and eliminated the repetition effect on the LPC, suggesting a lack of episodic recollection. These findings converge on a top-down verification account, on which the brain processes more predictable input less thoroughly. More generally, the results demonstrate that predictability hasmultifaceted downstreamconsequences beyond processing in the moment
  • Seeliger, K., Fritsche, M., Güçlü, U., Schoenmakers, S., Schoffelen, J.-M., Bosch, S. E., & Van Gerven, M. A. J. (2018). Convolutional neural network-based encoding and decoding of visual object recognition in space and time. NeuroImage, 180, 253-266. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.07.018.

    Abstract

    Representations learned by deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for object recognition are a widely investigated model of the processing hierarchy in the human visual system. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, CNN representations of visual stimuli have previously been shown to correspond to processing stages in the ventral and dorsal streams of the visual system. Whether this correspondence between models and brain signals also holds for activity acquired at high temporal resolution has been explored less exhaustively. Here, we addressed this question by combining CNN-based encoding models with magnetoencephalography (MEG). Human participants passively viewed 1,000 images of objects while MEG signals were acquired. We modelled their high temporal resolution source-reconstructed cortical activity with CNNs, and observed a feed-forward sweep across the visual hierarchy between 75 and 200 ms after stimulus onset. This spatiotemporal cascade was captured by the network layer representations, where the increasingly abstract stimulus representation in the hierarchical network model was reflected in different parts of the visual cortex, following the visual ventral stream. We further validated the accuracy of our encoding model by decoding stimulus identity in a left-out validation set of viewed objects, achieving state-of-the-art decoding accuracy.
  • Segaert, K., Mazaheri, A., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Binding language: Structuring sentences through precisely timed oscillatory mechanisms. European Journal of Neuroscience, 48(7), 2651-2662. doi:10.1111/ejn.13816.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    Recently, it has been proposed that sequence learning engages a combination of modality-specific operating networks and modality-independent computational principles. In the present study, we compared the behavioural and EEG outcomes of implicit artificial grammar learning in the visual vs. auditory modality. We controlled for the influence of surface characteristics of sequences (Associative Chunk Strength), thus focusing on the strictly structural aspects of sequence learning, and we adapted the paradigms to compensate for known frailties of the visual modality compared to audition (temporal presentation, fast presentation rate). The behavioural outcomes were similar across modalities. Favouring the idea of modality-specificity, ERPs in response to grammar violations differed in topography and latency (earlier and more anterior component in the visual modality), and ERPs in response to surface features emerged only in the auditory modality. In favour of modality-independence, we observed three common functional properties in the late ERPs of the two grammars: both were free of interactions between structural and surface influences, both were more extended in a grammaticality classification test than in a preference classification test, and both correlated positively and strongly with theta event-related-synchronization during baseline testing. Our findings support the idea of modality-specificity combined with modality-independence, and suggest that memory for visual vs. auditory sequences may largely contribute to cross-modal differences.
  • Sjerps, M. J., Zhang, C., & Peng, G. (2018). Lexical Tone is Perceived Relative to Locally Surrounding Context, Vowel Quality to Preceding Context. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44(6), 914-924. doi:10.1037/xhp0000504.

    Abstract

    Important speech cues such as lexical tone and vowel quality are perceptually contrasted to the distribution of those same cues in surrounding contexts. However, it is unclear whether preceding and following contexts have similar influences, and to what extent those influences are modulated by the auditory history of previous trials. To investigate this, Cantonese participants labeled sounds from (a) a tone continuum (mid- to high-level), presented with a context that had raised or lowered F0 values and (b) a vowel quality continuum (/u/ to /o/), where the context had raised or lowered F1 values. Contexts with high or low F0/F1 were presented in separate blocks or intermixed in 1 block. Contexts were presented following (Experiment 1) or preceding the target continuum (Experiment 2). Contrastive effects were found for both tone and vowel quality (e.g., decreased F0 values in contexts lead to more high tone target judgments and vice versa). Importantly, however, lexical tone was only influenced by F0 in immediately preceding and following contexts. Vowel quality was only influenced by the F1 in preceding contexts, but this extended to contexts from preceding trials. Contextual influences on tone and vowel quality are qualitatively different, which has important implications for understanding the mechanism of context effects in speech perception.
  • Stolk, A., Griffin, S., Van der Meij, R., Dewar, C., Saez, I., Lin, J. J., Piantoni, G., Schoffelen, J.-M., Knight, R. T., & Oostenveld, R. (2018). Integrated analysis of anatomical and electrophysiological human intracranial data. Nature Protocols, 13, 1699-1723. doi:10.1038/s41596-018-0009-6.

    Abstract

    Human intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) recordings provide data with much greater spatiotemporal precision than is possible from data obtained using scalp EEG, magnetoencephalography (MEG), or functional MRI. Until recently, the fusion of anatomical data (MRI and computed tomography (CT) images) with electrophysiological data and their subsequent analysis have required the use of technologically and conceptually challenging combinations of software. Here, we describe a comprehensive protocol that enables complex raw human iEEG data to be converted into more readily comprehensible illustrative representations. The protocol uses an open-source toolbox for electrophysiological data analysis (FieldTrip). This allows iEEG researchers to build on a continuously growing body of scriptable and reproducible analysis methods that, over the past decade, have been developed and used by a large research community. In this protocol, we describe how to analyze complex iEEG datasets by providing an intuitive and rapid approach that can handle both neuroanatomical information and large electrophysiological datasets. We provide a worked example using an example dataset. We also explain how to automate the protocol and adjust the settings to enable analysis of iEEG datasets with other characteristics. The protocol can be implemented by a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow with minimal MATLAB experience and takes approximately an hour to execute, excluding the automated cortical surface extraction.
  • Tan, Y., & Martin, R. C. (2018). Verbal short-term memory capacities and executive function in semantic and syntactic interference resolution during sentence comprehension: Evidence from aphasia. Neuropsychologia, 113, 111-125. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.03.001.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    When we comprehend language, we often do this in rich settings in which we can use many cues to understand what someone is saying. However, it has traditionally been difficult to design experiments with rich three-dimensional contexts that resemble our everyday environments, while maintaining control over the linguistic and non-linguistic information that is available. Here we test the validity of combining electroencephalography (EEG) and Virtual Reality (VR) to overcome this problem. We recorded electrophysiological brain activity during language processing in a well-controlled three-dimensional virtual audiovisual environment. Participants were immersed in a virtual restaurant, while wearing EEG equipment. In the restaurant participants encountered virtual restaurant guests. Each guest was seated at a separate table with an object on it (e.g. a plate with salmon). The restaurant guest would then produce a sentence (e.g. “I just ordered this salmon.”). The noun in the spoken sentence could either match (“salmon”) or mismatch (“pasta”) with the object on the table, creating a situation in which the auditory information was either appropriate or inappropriate in the visual context. We observed a reliable N400 effect as a consequence of the mismatch. This finding validates the combined use of VR and EEG as a tool to study the neurophysiological mechanisms of everyday language comprehension in rich, ecologically valid settings.
  • Udden, J., & Männel, C. (2018). Artificial grammar learning and its neurobiology in relation to language processing and development. In S.-A. Rueschemeyer, & M. G. Gaskell (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics (2nd ed., pp. 755-783). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Abstract

    The artificial grammar learning (AGL) paradigm enables systematic investigation of the acquisition of linguistically relevant structures. It is a paradigm of interest for language processing research, interfacing with theoretical linguistics, and for comparative research on language acquisition and evolution. This chapter presents a key for understanding major variants of the paradigm. An unbiased summary of neuroimaging findings of AGL is presented, using meta-analytic methods, pointing to the crucial involvement of the bilateral frontal operculum and regions in the right lateral hemisphere. Against a background of robust posterior temporal cortex involvement in processing complex syntax, the evidence for involvement of the posterior temporal cortex in AGL is reviewed. Infant AGL studies testing for neural substrates are reviewed, covering the acquisition of adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies as well as algebraic rules. The language acquisition data suggest that comparisons of learnability of complex grammars performed with adults may now also be possible with children.
  • Van den Broek, G., Takashima, A., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2018). Contextual Richness and Word Learning: Context Enhances Comprehension but Retrieval Enhances Retention. Language Learning, 68(2), 546-585. doi:10.1111/lang.12285.

    Abstract

    Learning new vocabulary from context typically requires multiple encounters during which word meaning can be retrieved from memory or inferred from context. We compared the effect of memory retrieval and context inferences on short‐ and long‐term retention in three experiments. Participants studied novel words and then practiced the words either in an uninformative context that required the retrieval of word meaning from memory (“I need the funguo”) or in an informative context from which word meaning could be inferred (“I want to unlock the door: I need the funguo”). The informative context facilitated word comprehension during practice. However, later recall of word form and meaning and word recognition in a new context were better after successful retrieval practice and retrieval practice with feedback than after context‐inference practice. These findings suggest benefits of retrieval during contextualized vocabulary learning whereby the uninformative context enhanced word retention by triggering memory retrieval.
  • Van Bergen, G., & Bosker, H. R. (2018). Linguistic expectation management in online discourse processing: An investigation of Dutch inderdaad 'indeed' and eigenlijk 'actually'. Journal of Memory and Language, 103, 191-209. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2018.08.004.

    Abstract

    Interpersonal discourse particles (DPs), such as Dutch inderdaad (≈‘indeed’) and eigenlijk (≈‘actually’) are highly frequent in everyday conversational interaction. Despite extensive theoretical descriptions of their polyfunctionality, little is known about how they are used by language comprehenders. In two visual world eye-tracking experiments involving an online dialogue completion task, we asked to what extent inderdaad, confirming an inferred expectation, and eigenlijk, contrasting with an inferred expectation, influence real-time understanding of dialogues. Answers in the dialogues contained a DP or a control adverb, and a critical discourse referent was replaced by a beep; participants chose the most likely dialogue completion by clicking on one of four referents in a display. Results show that listeners make rapid and fine-grained situation-specific inferences about the use of DPs, modulating their expectations about how the dialogue will unfold. Findings further specify and constrain theories about the conversation-managing function and polyfunctionality of DPs.
  • Van Campen, A. D., Kunert, R., Van den Wildenberg, W. P. M., & Ridderinkhof, K. R. (2018). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over inferior frontal cortex impairs the suppression (but not expression) of action impulses during action conflict. Psychophysiology, 55(3): e13003. doi:10.1111/psyp.13003.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    During a post-encoding delay period, the ongoing consolidation of recently acquired memories can suffer interference if the delay period involves encoding of new memories, or sensory stimulation tasks. Interestingly, two recent independent studies suggest that (i) autobiographical thinking also interferes markedly with ongoing consolidation of recently learned wordlist material, while (ii) a 2-Back task might not interfere with ongoing consolidation, possibly due to the suppression of autobiographical thinking. In this study, we directly compare these conditions against a quiet wakeful rest baseline to test whether the promotion (via familiar sound-cues) or suppression (via a 2-Back task) of autobiographical thinking during the post-encoding delay period can affect consolidation of studied wordlists in a negative or a positive way, respectively. Our results successfully replicate previous studies and show a significant interference effect (as compared to the rest condition) when learning is followed by familiar sound-cues that promote autobiographical thinking, whereas no interference effect is observed when learning is followed by the 2-Back task. Results from a post-experimental experience-sampling questionnaire further show significant differences in the degree of autobiographical thinking reported during the three post-encoding periods: highest in the presence of sound-cues and lowest during the 2-Back task. In conclusion, our results suggest that varying levels of autobiographical thought during the post-encoding period may modulate episodic memory consolidation.
  • Wang, L., Hagoort, P., & Jensen, O. (2018). Gamma oscillatory activity related to language prediction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(8), 1075-1085. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01275.

    Abstract

    Using magnetoencephalography, the current study examined gamma activity associated with language prediction. Participants read high- and low-constraining sentences in which the final word of the sentence was either expected or unexpected. Although no consistent gamma power difference induced by the sentence-final words was found between the expected and unexpected conditions, the correlation of gamma power during the prediction and activation intervals of the sentence-final words was larger when the presented words matched with the prediction compared with when the prediction was violated or when no prediction was available. This suggests that gamma magnitude relates to the match between predicted and perceived words. Moreover, the expected words induced activity with a slower gamma frequency compared with that induced by unexpected words. Overall, the current study establishes that prediction is related to gamma power correlations and a slowing of the gamma frequency.
  • Wang, L., Hagoort, P., & Jensen, O. (2018). Language prediction is reflected by coupling between frontal gamma and posterior alpha oscillations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(3), 432-447. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01190.

    Abstract

    Readers and listeners actively predict upcoming words during language processing. These predictions might serve to support the unification of incoming words into sentence context and thus rely on interactions between areas in the language network. In the current magnetoencephalography study, participants read sentences that varied in contextual constraints so that the predictability of the sentence-final words was either high or low. Before the sentence-final words, we observed stronger alpha power suppression for the highly compared with low constraining sentences in the left inferior frontal cortex, left posterior temporal region, and visual word form area. Importantly, the temporal and visual word form area alpha power correlated negatively with left frontal gamma power for the highly constraining sentences. We suggest that the correlation between alpha power decrease in temporal language areas and left prefrontal gamma power reflects the initiation of an anticipatory unification process in the language network.
  • Willems, R. M., & Van Gerven, M. (2018). New fMRI methods for the study of language. In S.-A. Rueschemeyer, & M. G. Gaskell (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics (2nd ed., pp. 975-991). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Willems, R. M., & Cristia, A. (2018). Hemodynamic methods: fMRI and fNIRS. In A. M. B. De Groot, & P. Hagoort (Eds.), Research methods in psycholinguistics and the neurobiology of language: A practical guide (pp. 266-287). Hoboken: Wiley.
  • Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Reis, A., Marques, J. F., & Petersson, K. M. (2016). Visual naming deficits in dyslexia: An ERP investigation of different processing domains. Neuropsychologia, 91, 61-76. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.07.007.

    Abstract

    Naming speed deficits are well documented in developmental dyslexia, expressed by slower naming times and more errors in response to familiar items. Here we used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine at what processing level the deficits in dyslexia emerge during a discrete-naming task. Dyslexic and skilled adult control readers performed a primed object-naming task, in which the relationship between the prime and the target was manipulated along perceptual, semantic and phonological dimensions. A 3×2 design that crossed Relationship Type (Visual, Phonemic Onset, and Semantic) with Relatedness (Related and Unrelated) was used. An attenuated N/P190 – indexing early visual processing – and N300 – which index late visual processing – was observed to pictures preceded by perceptually related (vs. unrelated) primes in the control but not in the dyslexic group. These findings suggest suboptimal processing in early stages of object processing in dyslexia, when integration and mapping of perceptual information to a more form-specific percept in memory take place. On the other hand, both groups showed an N400 effect associated with semantically related pictures (vs. unrelated), taken to reflect intact integration of semantic similarities in both dyslexic and control readers. We also found an electrophysiological effect of phonological priming in the N400 range – that is, an attenuated N400 to objects preceded by phonemic related primes vs. unrelated – while it showed a more widespread distributed and more pronounced over the right hemisphere in the dyslexics. Topographic differences between groups might have originated from a word form encoding process with different characteristics in dyslexics compared to control readers.
  • Asaridou, S. S., Takashima, A., Dediu, D., Hagoort, P., & McQueen, J. M. (2016). Repetition suppression in the left inferior frontal gyrus predicts tone learning performance. Cerebral Cortex, 26(6), 2728-2742. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv126.

    Abstract

    Do individuals differ in how efficiently they process non-native sounds? To what extent do these differences relate to individual variability in sound-learning aptitude? We addressed these questions by assessing the sound-learning abilities of Dutch native speakers as they were trained on non-native tone contrasts. We used fMRI repetition suppression to the non-native tones to measure participants' neuronal processing efficiency before and after training. Although all participants improved in tone identification with training, there was large individual variability in learning performance. A repetition suppression effect to tone was found in the bilateral inferior frontal gyri (IFGs) before training. No whole-brain effect was found after training; a region-of-interest analysis, however, showed that, after training, repetition suppression to tone in the left IFG correlated positively with learning. That is, individuals who were better in learning the non-native tones showed larger repetition suppression in this area. Crucially, this was true even before training. These findings add to existing evidence that the left IFG plays an important role in sound learning and indicate that individual differences in learning aptitude stem from differences in the neuronal efficiency with which non-native sounds are processed.
  • Backus, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Szebényi, S., Hanslmayr, S., & Doeller, C. (2016). Hippocampal-prefrontal theta oscillations support memory integration. Current Biology, 26, 450-457. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.12.048.

    Abstract

    Integration of separate memories forms the basis of inferential reasoning - an essential cognitive process that enables complex behavior. Considerable evidence suggests that both hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) play a crucial role in memory integration. Although previous studies indicate that theta oscillations facilitate memory processes, the electrophysiological mechanisms underlying memory integration remain elusive. To bridge this gap, we recorded magnetoencephalography data while participants performed an inference task and employed novel source reconstruction techniques to estimate oscillatory signals from the hippocampus. We found that hippocampal theta power during encoding predicts subsequent memory integration. Moreover, we observed increased theta coherence between hippocampus and mPFC. Our results suggest that integrated memory representations arise through hippocampal theta oscillations, possibly reflecting dynamic switching between encoding and retrieval states, and facilitating communication with mPFC. These findings have important implications for our understanding of memory-based decision making and knowledge acquisition
  • Bastos, A. M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2016). A tutorial review of functional connectivity analysis methods and their interpretational pitfalls. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9: 175. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2015.00175.

    Abstract

    Oscillatory neuronal activity may provide a mechanism for dynamic network coordination. Rhythmic neuronal interactions can be quantified using multiple metrics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. This tutorial will review and summarize current analysis methods used in the field of invasive and non-invasive electrophysiology to study the dynamic connections between neuronal populations. First, we review metrics for functional connectivity, including coherence, phase synchronization, phase-slope index, and Granger causality, with the specific aim to provide an intuition for how these metrics work, as well as their quantitative definition. Next, we highlight a number of interpretational caveats and common pitfalls that can arise when performing functional connectivity analysis, including the common reference problem, the signal to noise ratio problem, the volume conduction problem, the common input problem, and the sample size bias problem. These pitfalls will be illustrated by presenting a set of MATLAB-scripts, which can be executed by the reader to simulate each of these potential problems. We discuss how these issues can be addressed using current methods.
  • Bramão, I., Reis, A., Petersson, K. M., & Faísca, L. (2016). Knowing that strawberries are red and seeing red strawberries: The interaction between surface colour and colour knowledge information. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 28(6), 641-657. doi:10.1080/20445911.2016.1182171.

    Abstract

    his study investigates the interaction between surface and colour knowledge information during object recognition. In two different experiments, participants were instructed to decide whether two presented stimuli belonged to the same object identity. On the non-matching trials, we manipulated the shape and colour knowledge information activated by the two stimuli by creating four different stimulus pairs: (1) similar in shape and colour (e.g. TOMATO–APPLE); (2) similar in shape and dissimilar in colour (e.g. TOMATO–COCONUT); (3) dissimilar in shape and similar in colour (e.g. TOMATO–CHILI PEPPER) and (4) dissimilar in both shape and colour (e.g. TOMATO–PEANUT). The object pictures were presented in typical and atypical colours and also in black-and-white. The interaction between surface and colour knowledge showed to be contingent upon shape information: while colour knowledge is more important for recognising structurally similar shaped objects, surface colour is more prominent for recognising structurally dissimilar shaped objects.
  • Broersma, M., Carter, D., & Acheson, D. J. (2016). Cognate costs in bilingual speech production: Evidence from language switching. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1461. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01461.

    Abstract

    This study investigates cross-language lexical competition in the bilingual mental lexicon. It provides evidence for the occurrence of inhibition as well as the commonly reported facilitation during the production of cognates (words with similar phonological form and meaning in two languages) in a mixed picture naming task by highly proficient Welsh-English bilinguals. Previous studies have typically found cognate facilitation. It has previously been proposed (with respect to non-cognates) that cross-language inhibition is limited to low-proficient bilinguals; therefore, we tested highly proficient, early bilinguals. In a mixed naming experiment (i.e., picture naming with language switching), 48 highly proficient, early Welsh-English bilinguals named pictures in Welsh and English, including cognate and non-cognate targets. Participants were English-dominant, Welsh-dominant, or had equal language dominance. The results showed evidence for cognate inhibition in two ways. First, both facilitation and inhibition were found on the cognate trials themselves, compared to non-cognate controls, modulated by the participants' language dominance. The English-dominant group showed cognate inhibition when naming in Welsh (and no difference between cognates and controls when naming in English), and the Welsh-dominant and equal dominance groups generally showed cognate facilitation. Second, cognate inhibition was found as a behavioral adaptation effect, with slower naming for non-cognate filler words in trials after cognates than after non-cognate controls. This effect was consistent across all language dominance groups and both target languages, suggesting that cognate production involved cognitive control even if this was not measurable in the cognate trials themselves. Finally, the results replicated patterns of symmetrical switch costs, as commonly reported for balanced bilinguals. We propose that cognate processing might be affected by two different processes, namely competition at the lexical-semantic level and facilitation at the word form level, and that facilitation at the word form level might (sometimes) outweigh any effects of inhibition at the lemma level. In sum, this study provides evidence that cognate naming can cause costs in addition to benefits. The finding of cognate inhibition, particularly for the highly proficient bilinguals tested, provides strong evidence for the occurrence of lexical competition across languages in the bilingual mental lexicon.
  • Chu, M., & Kita, S. (2016). Co-thought and Co-speech Gestures Are Generated by the Same Action Generation Process. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(2), 257-270. doi:10.1037/xlm0000168.

    Abstract

    People spontaneously gesture when they speak (co-speech gestures) and when they solve problems silently (co-thought gestures). In this study, we first explored the relationship between these 2 types of gestures and found that individuals who produced co-thought gestures more frequently also produced co-speech gestures more frequently (Experiments 1 and 2). This suggests that the 2 types of gestures are generated from the same process. We then investigated whether both types of gestures can be generated from the representational use of the action generation process that also generates purposeful actions that have a direct physical impact on the world, such as manipulating an object or locomotion (the action generation hypothesis). To this end, we examined the effect of object affordances on the production of both types of gestures (Experiments 3 and 4). We found that individuals produced co-thought and co-speech gestures more often when the stimulus objects afforded action (objects with a smooth surface) than when they did not (objects with a spiky surface). These results support the action generation hypothesis for representational gestures. However, our findings are incompatible with the hypothesis that co-speech representational gestures are solely generated from the speech production process (the speech production hypothesis).
  • Coulson, S., & Lai, V. T. (Eds.). (2016). The metaphorical brain [Research topic]. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi:10.3389/978-2-88919-772-9.

    Abstract

    This Frontiers Special Issue will synthesize current findings on the cognitive neuroscience of metaphor, provide a forum for voicing novel perspectives, and promote new insights into the metaphorical brain.
  • Dimitrova, D. V., Chu, M., Wang, L., Ozyurek, A., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Beat that word: How listeners integrate beat gesture and focus in multimodal speech discourse. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28(9), 1255-1269. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00963.

    Abstract

    Communication is facilitated when listeners allocate their attention to important information (focus) in the message, a process called "information structure." Linguistic cues like the preceding context and pitch accent help listeners to identify focused information. In multimodal communication, relevant information can be emphasized by nonverbal cues like beat gestures, which represent rhythmic nonmeaningful hand movements. Recent studies have found that linguistic and nonverbal attention cues are integrated independently in single sentences. However, it is possible that these two cues interact when information is embedded in context, because context allows listeners to predict what information is important. In an ERP study, we tested this hypothesis and asked listeners to view videos capturing a dialogue. In the critical sentence, focused and nonfocused words were accompanied by beat gestures, grooming hand movements, or no gestures. ERP results showed that focused words are processed more attentively than nonfocused words as reflected in an N1 and P300 component. Hand movements also captured attention and elicited a P300 component. Importantly, beat gesture and focus interacted in a late time window of 600-900 msec relative to target word onset, giving rise to a late positivity when nonfocused words were accompanied by beat gestures. Our results show that listeners integrate beat gesture with the focus of the message and that integration costs arise when beat gesture falls on nonfocused information. This suggests that beat gestures fulfill a unique focusing function in multimodal discourse processing and that they have to be integrated with the information structure of the message.
  • Francken, J. C. (2016). Viewing the world through language-tinted glasses: Elucidating the neural mechanisms of language-perception interactions. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • Frank, S. L., & Fitz, H. (2016). Reservoir computing and the Sooner-is-Better bottleneck [Commentary on Christiansen & Slater]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39: e73. doi:10.1017/S0140525X15000783.

    Abstract

    Prior language input is not lost but integrated with the current input. This principle is demonstrated by “reservoir computing”: Untrained recurrent neural networks project input sequences onto a random point in high-dimensional state space. Earlier inputs can be retrieved from this projection, albeit less reliably so as more input is received. The bottleneck is therefore not “Now-or-Never” but “Sooner-is-Better.
  • Gerwien, J., & Flecken, M. (2016). First things first? Top-down influences on event apprehension. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 2633-2638). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Not much is known about event apprehension, the earliest stage of information processing in elicited language production studies, using pictorial stimuli. A reason for our lack of knowledge on this process is that apprehension happens very rapidly (<350 ms after stimulus onset, Griffin & Bock 2000), making it difficult to measure the process directly. To broaden our understanding of apprehension, we analyzed landing positions and onset latencies of first fixations on visual stimuli (pictures of real-world events) given short stimulus presentation times, presupposing that the first fixation directly results from information processing during apprehension
  • Gijssels, T., Staum Casasanto, L., Jasmin, K., Hagoort, P., & Casasanto, D. (2016). Speech accommodation without priming: The case of pitch. Discourse Processes, 53(4), 233-251. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2015.1023965.

    Abstract

    People often accommodate to each other's speech by aligning their linguistic production with their partner's. According to an influential theory, the Interactive Alignment Model (Pickering & Garrod, 2004), alignment is the result of priming. When people perceive an utterance, the corresponding linguistic representations are primed, and become easier to produce. Here we tested this theory by investigating whether pitch (F0) alignment shows two characteristic signatures of priming: dose dependence and persistence. In a virtual reality experiment, we manipulated the pitch of a virtual interlocutor's speech to find out (a.) whether participants accommodated to the agent's F0, (b.) whether the amount of accommodation increased with increasing exposure to the agent's speech, and (c.) whether changes to participants' F0 persisted beyond the conversation. Participants accommodated to the virtual interlocutor, but accommodation did not increase in strength over the conversation, and it disappeared immediately after the conversation ended. Results argue against a priming-based account of F0 accommodation, and indicate that an alternative mechanism is needed to explain alignment along continuous dimensions of language such as speech rate and pitch.
  • Hagoort, P. (2016). MUC (Memory, Unification, Control): A Model on the Neurobiology of Language Beyond Single Word Processing. In G. Hickok, & S. Small (Eds.), Neurobiology of language (pp. 339-347). Amsterdam: Elsever. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-407794-2.00028-6.

    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 beyond the classical core regions for language is shown. Attentional networks as well as networks for inferential processing are crucial to realize language comprehension beyond single word processing and beyond decoding propositional content.
  • Hagoort, P. (2016). Zij zijn ons brein. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Machines die denken: Invloedrijke denkers over de komst van kunstmatige intelligentie (pp. 184-186). Amsterdam: Maven Publishing.
  • Hartung, F., Burke, M., Hagoort, P., & Willems, R. M. (2016). Taking perspective: Personal pronouns affect experiential aspects of literary reading. PLoS One, 11(5): e0154732. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154732.

    Abstract

    Personal pronouns have been shown to influence cognitive perspective taking during comprehension. Studies using single sentences found that 3rd person pronouns facilitate the construction of a mental model from an observer’s perspective, whereas 2nd person pronouns support an actor’s perspective. The direction of the effect for 1st person pronouns seems to depend on the situational context. In the present study, we investigated how personal pronouns influence discourse comprehension when people read fiction stories and if this has consequences for affective components like emotion during reading or appreciation of the story. We wanted to find out if personal pronouns affect immersion and arousal, as well as appreciation of fiction. In a natural reading paradigm, we measured electrodermal activity and story immersion, while participants read literary stories with 1st and 3rd person pronouns referring to the protagonist. In addition, participants rated and ranked the stories for appreciation. Our results show that stories with 1st person pronouns lead to higher immersion. Two factors—transportation into the story world and mental imagery during reading—in particular showed higher scores for 1st person as compared to 3rd person pronoun stories. In contrast, arousal as measured by electrodermal activity seemed tentatively higher for 3rd person pronoun stories. The two measures of appreciation were not affected by the pronoun manipulation. Our findings underscore the importance of perspective for language processing, and additionally show which aspects of the narrative experience are influenced by a change in perspective.
  • St. John-Saaltink, E. (2016). When the past influences the present: Modulations of the sensory response by prior knowledge and task set. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • Kösem, A., Basirat, A., Azizi, L., & van Wassenhove, V. (2016). High frequency neural activity predicts word parsing in ambiguous speech streams. Journal of Neurophysiology, 116(6), 2497-2512. doi:10.1152/jn.00074.2016.

    Abstract

    During speech listening, the brain parses a continuous acoustic stream of information into computational units (e.g. syllables or words) necessary for speech comprehension. Recent neuroscientific hypotheses propose that neural oscillations contribute to speech parsing, but whether they do so on the basis of acoustic cues (bottom-up acoustic parsing) or as a function of available linguistic representations (top-down linguistic parsing) is unknown. In this magnetoencephalography study, we contrasted acoustic and linguistic parsing using bistable speech sequences. While listening to the speech sequences, participants were asked to maintain one of the two possible speech percepts through volitional control. We predicted that the tracking of speech dynamics by neural oscillations would not only follow the acoustic properties but also shift in time according to the participant’s conscious speech percept. Our results show that the latency of high-frequency activity (specifically, beta and gamma bands) varied as a function of the perceptual report. In contrast, the phase of low-frequency oscillations was not strongly affected by top-down control. While changes in low-frequency neural oscillations were compatible with the encoding of pre-lexical segmentation cues, high-frequency activity specifically informed on an individual’s conscious speech percept.

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  • Kunert, R., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). An independent psychometric evaluation of the PROMS measure of music perception skills. PLoS One, 11(7): e0159103. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159103.

    Abstract

    The Profile of Music Perception Skills (PROMS) is a recently developed measure of perceptual music skills which has been shown to have promising psychometric properties. In this paper we extend the evaluation of its brief version to three kinds of validity using an individual difference approach. The brief PROMS displays good discriminant validity with working memory, given that it does not correlate with backward digit span (r = .04). Moreover, it shows promising criterion validity (association with musical training (r = .45), musicianship status (r = .48), and self-rated musical talent (r = .51)). Finally, its convergent validity, i.e. relation to an unrelated measure of music perception skills, was assessed by correlating the brief PROMS to harmonic closure judgment accuracy. Two independent samples point to good convergent validity of the brief PROMS (r = .36; r = .40). The same association is still significant in one of the samples when including self-reported music skill in a partial correlation (rpartial = .30; rpartial = .17). Overall, the results show that the brief version of the PROMS displays a very good pattern of construct validity. Especially its tuning subtest stands out as a valuable part for music skill evaluations in Western samples. We conclude by briefly discussing the choice faced by music cognition researchers between different musical aptitude measures of which the brief PROMS is a well evaluated example.
  • Kunert, R. (2016). Internal conceptual replications do not increase independent replication success. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(5), 1631-1638. doi:10.3758/s13423-016-1030-9.

    Abstract

    Recently, many psychological effects have been surprisingly difficult to reproduce. This article asks why, and investigates whether conceptually replicating an effect in the original publication is related to the success of independent, direct replications. Two prominent accounts of low reproducibility make different predictions in this respect. One account suggests that psychological phenomena are dependent on unknown contexts that are not reproduced in independent replication attempts. By this account, internal replications indicate that a finding is more robust and, thus, that it is easier to independently replicate it. An alternative account suggests that researchers employ questionable research practices (QRPs), which increase false positive rates. By this account, the success of internal replications may just be the result of QRPs and, thus, internal replications are not predictive of independent replication success. The data of a large reproducibility project support the QRP account: replicating an effect in the original publication is not related to independent replication success. Additional analyses reveal that internally replicated and internally unreplicated effects are not very different in terms of variables associated with replication success. Moreover, social psychological effects in particular appear to lack any benefit from internal replications. Overall, these results indicate that, in this dataset at least, the influence of QRPs is at the heart of failures to replicate psychological findings, especially in social psychology. Variable, unknown contexts appear to play only a relatively minor role. I recommend practical solutions for how QRPs can be avoided.

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  • Kunert, R., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Language influences music harmony perception: effects of shared syntactic integration resources beyond attention. Royal Society Open Science, 3(2): 150685. doi:10.1098/rsos.150685.

    Abstract

    Many studies have revealed shared music–language processing resources by finding an influence of music harmony manipulations on concurrent language processing. However, the nature of the shared resources has remained ambiguous. They have been argued to be syntax specific and thus due to shared syntactic integration resources. An alternative view regards them as related to general attention and, thus, not specific to syntax. The present experiments evaluated these accounts by investigating the influence of language on music. Participants were asked to provide closure judgements on harmonic sequences in order to assess the appropriateness of sequence endings. At the same time participants read syntactic garden-path sentences. Closure judgements revealed a change in harmonic processing as the result of reading a syntactically challenging word. We found no influence of an arithmetic control manipulation (experiment 1) or semantic garden-path sentences (experiment 2). Our results provide behavioural evidence for a specific influence of linguistic syntax processing on musical harmony judgements. A closer look reveals that the shared resources appear to be needed to hold a harmonic key online in some form of syntactic working memory or unification workspace related to the integration of chords and words. Overall, our results support the syntax specificity of shared music–language processing resources.
  • Lai, V. T., & Huettig, F. (2016). When prediction is fulfilled: Insight from emotion processing. Neuropsychologia, 85, 110-117. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.03.014.

    Abstract

    Research on prediction in language processing has focused predominantly on the function of predictive context and less on the potential contribution of the predicted word. The present study investigated how meaning that is not immediately prominent in the contents of predictions but is part of the predicted words influences sentence processing. We used emotional meaning to address this question. Participants read emotional and neutral words embedded in highly predictive and non-predictive sentential contexts, with the two sentential contexts rated similarly for their emotional ratings. Event Related Potential (ERP) effects of prediction and emotion both started at ~200 ms. Confirmed predictions elicited larger P200s than violated predictions when the target words were non-emotional (neutral), but such effect was absent when the target words were emotional. Likewise, emotional words elicited larger P200s than neutral words when the target words were non-predictive, but such effect were absent when the contexts were predictive. We conjecture that the prediction and emotion effects at ~200 ms may share similar neural process(es). We suggest that such process(es) could be affective, where confirmed predictions and word emotion give rise to ‘aha’ or reward feelings, and/or cognitive, where both prediction and word emotion quickly engage attention

    Additional information

    Lai_Huettig_2016_supp.xlsx
  • Lam, N. H. L., Schoffelen, J.-M., Udden, J., Hulten, A., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Neural activity during sentence processing as reflected in theta, alpha, beta and gamma oscillations. NeuroImage, 142(15), 43-54. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.03.007.

    Abstract

    We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to explore the spatio-temporal dynamics of neural oscillations associated with sentence processing, in 102 participants. We quantified changes in oscillatory power as the sentence unfolded, and in response to individual words in the sentence. For words early in a sentence compared to those late in the same sentence, we observed differences in left temporal and frontal areas, and bilateral frontal and right parietal regions for the theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands. The neural response to words in a sentence differed from the response to words in scrambled sentences in left-lateralized theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. The theta band effects suggest that a sentential context facilitates lexical retrieval, and that this facilitation is stronger for words late in the sentence. Effects in the alpha and beta band may reflect the unification of semantic and syntactic information, and are suggestive of easier unification late in a sentence. The gamma oscillations are indicative of predicting the upcoming word during sentence processing. In conclusion, changes in oscillatory neuronal activity capture aspects of sentence processing. Our results support earlier claims that language (sentence) processing recruits areas distributed across both hemispheres, and extends beyond the classical language regions
  • Lartseva, A. (2016). Reading emotions: How people with Autism Spectrum Disorders process emotional language. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Leonard, M., Baud, M., Sjerps, M. J., & Chang, E. (2016). Perceptual restoration of masked speech in human cortex. Nature Communications, 7: 13619. doi:10.1038/ncomms13619.

    Abstract

    Humans are adept at understanding speech despite the fact that our natural listening environment is often filled with interference. An example of this capacity is phoneme restoration, in which part of a word is completely replaced by noise, yet listeners report hearing the whole word. The neurological basis for this unconscious fill-in phenomenon is unknown, despite being a fundamental characteristic of human hearing. Here, using direct cortical recordings in humans, we demonstrate that missing speech is restored at the acoustic-phonetic level in bilateral auditory cortex, in real-time. This restoration is preceded by specific neural activity patterns in a separate language area, left frontal cortex, which predicts the word that participants later report hearing. These results demonstrate that during speech perception, missing acoustic content is synthesized online from the integration of incoming sensory cues and the internal neural dynamics that bias word-level expectation and prediction.

    Additional information

    ncomms13619-s1.pdf
  • Lewis, A. G., Schoffelen, J.-M., Schriefers, H., & Bastiaansen, M. C. M. (2016). A Predictive Coding Perspective on Beta Oscillations during Sentence-Level Language Comprehension. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10: 85. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00085.

    Abstract

    Oscillatory neural dynamics have been steadily receiving more attention as a robust and temporally precise signature of network activity related to language processing. We have recently proposed that oscillatory dynamics in the beta and gamma frequency ranges measured during sentence-level comprehension might be best explained from a predictive coding perspective. Under our proposal we related beta oscillations to both the maintenance/change of the neural network configuration responsible for the construction and representation of sentence-level meaning, and to top–down predictions about upcoming linguistic input based on that sentence-level meaning. Here we zoom in on these particular aspects of our proposal, and discuss both old and new supporting evidence. Finally, we present some preliminary magnetoencephalography data from an experiment comparing Dutch subject- and object-relative clauses that was specifically designed to test our predictive coding framework. Initial results support the first of the two suggested roles for beta oscillations in sentence-level language comprehension.
  • Lewis, A. G., Lemhӧfer, K., Schoffelen, J.-M., & Schriefers, H. (2016). Gender agreement violations modulate beta oscillatory dynamics during sentence comprehension: A comparison of second language learners and native speakers. Neuropsychologia, 89(1), 254-272. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.06.031.

    Abstract

    For native speakers, many studies suggest a link between oscillatory neural activity in the beta frequency range and syntactic processing. For late second language (L2) learners on the other hand, the extent to which the neural architecture supporting syntactic processing is similar to or different from that of native speakers is still unclear. In a series of four experiments, we used electroencephalography to investigate the link between beta oscillatory activity and the processing of grammatical gender agreement in Dutch determiner-noun pairs, for Dutch native speakers, and for German L2 learners of Dutch. In Experiment 1 we show that for native speakers, grammatical gender agreement violations are yet another among many syntactic factors that modulate beta oscillatory activity during sentence comprehension. Beta power is higher for grammatically acceptable target words than for those that mismatch in grammatical gender with their preceding determiner. In Experiment 2 we observed no such beta modulations for L2 learners, irrespective of whether trials were sorted according to objective or subjective syntactic correctness. Experiment 3 ruled out that the absence of a beta effect for the L2 learners in Experiment 2 was due to repetition of the target nouns in objectively correct and incorrect determiner-noun pairs. Finally, Experiment 4 showed that when L2 learners are required to explicitly focus on grammatical information, they show modulations of beta oscillatory activity, comparable to those of native speakers, but only when trials are sorted according to participants’ idiosyncratic lexical representations of the grammatical gender of target nouns. Together, these findings suggest that beta power in L2 learners is sensitive to violations of grammatical gender agreement, but only when the importance of grammatical information is highlighted, and only when participants' subjective lexical representations are taken into account.
  • Lockwood, G. (2016). Academic clickbait: Articles with positively-framed titles, interesting phrasing, and no wordplay get more attention online. The Winnower, 3: e146723.36330. doi:10.15200/winn.146723.36330.

    Abstract

    This article is about whether the factors which drive online sharing of non-scholarly content also apply to academic journal titles. It uses Altmetric scores as a measure of online attention to articles from Frontiers in Psychology published in 2013 and 2014. Article titles with result-oriented positive framing and more interesting phrasing receive higher Altmetric scores, i.e., get more online attention. Article titles with wordplay and longer article titles receive lower Altmetric scores. This suggests that the same factors that affect how widely non-scholarly content is shared extend to academia, which has implications for how academics can make their work more likely to have more impact.
  • Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). How iconicity helps people learn new words: neural correlates and individual differences in sound-symbolic bootstrapping. Collabra, 2(1): 7. doi:10.1525/collabra.42.

    Abstract

    Sound symbolism is increasingly understood as involving iconicity, or perceptual analogies and cross-modal correspondences between form and meaning, but the search for its functional and neural correlates is ongoing. Here we study how people learn sound-symbolic words, using behavioural, electrophysiological and individual difference measures. Dutch participants learned Japanese ideophones —lexical sound-symbolic words— with a translation of either the real meaning (in which form and meaning show cross-modal correspondences) or the opposite meaning (in which form and meaning show cross-modal clashes). Participants were significantly better at identifying the words they learned in the real condition, correctly remembering the real word pairing 86.7% of the time, but the opposite word pairing only 71.3% of the time. Analysing event-related potentials (ERPs) during the test round showed that ideophones in the real condition elicited a greater P3 component and late positive complex than ideophones in the opposite condition. In a subsequent forced choice task, participants were asked to guess the real translation from two alternatives. They did this with 73.0% accuracy, well above chance level even for words they had encountered in the opposite condition, showing that people are generally sensitive to the sound-symbolic cues in ideophones. Individual difference measures showed that the ERP effect in the test round of the learning task was greater for participants who were more sensitive to sound symbolism in the forced choice task. The main driver of the difference was a lower amplitude of the P3 component in response to ideophones in the opposite condition, suggesting that people who are more sensitive to sound symbolism may have more difficulty to suppress conflicting cross-modal information. The findings provide new evidence that cross-modal correspondences between sound and meaning facilitate word learning, while cross-modal clashes make word learning harder, especially for people who are more sensitive to sound symbolism.

    Additional information

    https://osf.io/ema3t/
  • Lockwood, G., Dingemanse, M., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Sound-symbolism boosts novel word learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(8), 1274-1281. doi:10.1037/xlm0000235.

    Abstract

    The existence of sound-symbolism (or a non-arbitrary link between form and meaning) is well-attested. However, sound-symbolism has mostly been investigated with nonwords in forced choice tasks, neither of which are representative of natural language. This study uses ideophones, which are naturally occurring sound-symbolic words that depict sensory information, to investigate how sensitive Dutch speakers are to sound-symbolism in Japanese in a learning task. Participants were taught 2 sets of Japanese ideophones; 1 set with the ideophones’ real meanings in Dutch, the other set with their opposite meanings. In Experiment 1, participants learned the ideophones and their real meanings much better than the ideophones with their opposite meanings. Moreover, despite the learning rounds, participants were still able to guess the real meanings of the ideophones in a 2-alternative forced-choice test after they were informed of the manipulation. This shows that natural language sound-symbolism is robust beyond 2-alternative forced-choice paradigms and affects broader language processes such as word learning. In Experiment 2, participants learned regular Japanese adjectives with the same manipulation, and there was no difference between real and opposite conditions. This shows that natural language sound-symbolism is especially strong in ideophones, and that people learn words better when form and meaning match. The highlights of this study are as follows: (a) Dutch speakers learn real meanings of Japanese ideophones better than opposite meanings, (b) Dutch speakers accurately guess meanings of Japanese ideophones, (c) this sensitivity happens despite learning some opposite pairings, (d) no such learning effect exists for regular Japanese adjectives, and (e) this shows the importance of sound-symbolism in scaffolding language learning
  • Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). Synthesized Size-Sound Sound Symbolism. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 1823-1828). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Studies of sound symbolism have shown that people can associate sound and meaning in consistent ways when presented with maximally contrastive stimulus pairs of nonwords such as bouba/kiki (rounded/sharp) or mil/mal (small/big). Recent work has shown the effect extends to antonymic words from natural languages and has proposed a role for shared cross-modal correspondences in biasing form-to-meaning associations. An important open question is how the associations work, and particularly what the role is of sound-symbolic matches versus mismatches. We report on a learning task designed to distinguish between three existing theories by using a spectrum of sound-symbolically matching, mismatching, and neutral (neither matching nor mismatching) stimuli. Synthesized stimuli allow us to control for prosody, and the inclusion of a neutral condition allows a direct test of competing accounts. We find evidence for a sound-symbolic match boost, but not for a mismatch difficulty compared to the neutral condition.
  • Michalareas, G., Vezoli, J., Van Pelt, S., Schoffelen, J.-M., Kennedy, H., & Fries, P. (2016). Alpha-Beta and Gamma Rhythms Subserve Feedback and Feedforward Influences among Human Visual Cortical Areas. Neuron, 82(2), 384-397. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.018.

    Abstract

    Primate visual cortex is hierarchically organized. Bottom-up and top-down influences are exerted through distinct frequency channels, as was recently revealed in macaques by correlating inter-areal influences with laminar anatomical projection patterns. Because this anatomical data cannot be obtained in human subjects, we selected seven homologous macaque and human visual areas, and we correlated the macaque laminar projection patterns to human inter-areal directed influences as measured with magnetoencephalography. We show that influences along feedforward projections predominate in the gamma band, whereas influences along feedback projections predominate in the alpha-beta band. Rhythmic inter-areal influences constrain a functional hierarchy of the seven homologous human visual areas that is in close agreement with the respective macaque anatomical hierarchy. Rhythmic influences allow an extension of the hierarchy to 26 human visual areas including uniquely human brain areas. Hierarchical levels of ventral- and dorsal-stream visual areas are differentially affected by inter-areal influences in the alpha-beta band.
  • De Nooijer, J. A., & Willems, R. M. (2016). What can we learn about cognition from studying handedness? Insights from cognitive neuroscience. In F. Loffing, N. Hagemann, B. Strauss, & C. MacMahon (Eds.), Laterality in sports: Theories and applications (pp. 135-153). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Abstract

    Can studying left- and right-handers inform us about cognition? In this chapter, we give an overview of research showing that studying left- and right-handers is informative for understanding the way the brain is organized (i.e., lateralized), as there appear to be differences between left- and right-handers in this respect, but also on the behavioral level handedness studies can provide new insights. According to theories of embodied cognition, our body can influence cognition. Given that left- and right-handers use their bodies differently, this might reflect their performance on an array of cognitive tasks. Indeed, handedness can have an influence on, for instance, what side of space we judge as more positive, the way we gesture, how we remember things, and how we learn new words. Laterality research can, therefore, provide valuable information as to how we act and why
  • Peeters, D. (2016). Processing consequences of onomatopoeic iconicity in spoken language comprehension. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 1632-1647). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Iconicity is a fundamental feature of human language. However its processing consequences at the behavioral and neural level in spoken word comprehension are not well understood. The current paper presents the behavioral and electrophysiological outcome of an auditory lexical decision task in which native speakers of Dutch listened to onomatopoeic words and matched control words while their electroencephalogram was recorded. Behaviorally, onomatopoeic words were processed as quickly and accurately as words with an arbitrary mapping between form and meaning. Event-related potentials time-locked to word onset revealed a significant decrease in negative amplitude in the N2 and N400 components and a late positivity for onomatopoeic words in comparison to the control words. These findings advance our understanding of the temporal dynamics of iconic form-meaning mapping in spoken word comprehension and suggest interplay between the neural representations of real-world sounds and spoken words.
  • Peeters, D., & Ozyurek, A. (2016). This and that revisited: A social and multimodal approach to spatial demonstratives. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 222. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00222.
  • Poletiek, F. H., Fitz, H., & Bocanegra, B. R. (2016). What baboons can (not) tell us about natural language grammars. Cognition, 151, 108-112. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.04.016.

    Abstract

    Rey et al. (2012) present data from a study with baboons that they interpret in support of the idea that center-embedded structures in human language have their origin in low level memory mechanisms and associative learning. Critically, the authors claim that the baboons showed a behavioral preference that is consistent with center-embedded sequences over other types of sequences. We argue that the baboons’ response patterns suggest that two mechanisms are involved: first, they can be trained to associate a particular response with a particular stimulus, and, second, when faced with two conditioned stimuli in a row, they respond to the most recent one first, copying behavior they had been rewarded for during training. Although Rey et al. (2012) ‘experiment shows that the baboons’ behavior is driven by low level mechanisms, it is not clear how the animal behavior reported, bears on the phenomenon of Center Embedded structures in human syntax. Hence, (1) natural language syntax may indeed have been shaped by low level mechanisms, and (2) the baboons’ behavior is driven by low level stimulus response learning, as Rey et al. propose. But is the second evidence for the first? We will discuss in what ways this study can and cannot give evidential value for explaining the origin of Center Embedded recursion in human grammar. More generally, their study provokes an interesting reflection on the use of animal studies in order to understand features of the human linguistic system.
  • Schoot, L., Heyselaar, E., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2016). Does syntactic alignment effectively influence how speakers are perceived by their conversation partner. PLoS One, 11(4): e015352. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153521.

    Abstract

    The way we talk can influence how we are perceived by others. Whereas previous studies have started to explore the influence of social goals on syntactic alignment, in the current study, we additionally investigated whether syntactic alignment effectively influences conversation partners’ perception of the speaker. To this end, we developed a novel paradigm in which we can measure the effect of social goals on the strength of syntactic alignment for one participant (primed participant), while simultaneously obtaining usable social opinions about them from their conversation partner (the evaluator). In Study 1, participants’ desire to be rated favorably by their partner was manipulated by assigning pairs to a Control (i.e., primed participants did not know they were being evaluated) or Evaluation context (i.e., primed participants knew they were being evaluated). Surprisingly, results showed no significant difference in the strength with which primed participants aligned their syntactic choices with their partners’ choices. In a follow-up study, we used a Directed Evaluation context (i.e., primed participants knew they were being evaluated and were explicitly instructed to make a positive impression). However, again, there was no evidence supporting the hypothesis that participants’ desire to impress their partner influences syntactic alignment. With respect to the influence of syntactic alignment on perceived likeability by the evaluator, a negative relationship was reported in Study 1: the more primed participants aligned their syntactic choices with their partner, the more that partner decreased their likeability rating after the experiment. However, this effect was not replicated in the Directed Evaluation context of Study 2. In other words, our results do not support the conclusion that speakers’ desire to be liked affects how much they align their syntactic choices with their partner, nor is there convincing evidence that there is a reliable relationship between syntactic alignment and perceived likeability.

    Additional information

    Data availability
  • Schoot, L., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2016). What can we learn from a two-brain approach to verbal interaction? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 68, 454-459. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.06.009.

    Abstract

    Verbal interaction is one of the most frequent social interactions humans encounter on a daily basis. In the current paper, we zoom in on what the multi-brain approach has contributed, and can contribute in the future, to our understanding of the neural mechanisms supporting verbal interaction. Indeed, since verbal interaction can only exist between individuals, it seems intuitive to focus analyses on inter-individual neural markers, i.e. between-brain neural coupling. To date, however, there is a severe lack of theoretically-driven, testable hypotheses about what between-brain neural coupling actually reflects. In this paper, we develop a testable hypothesis in which between-pair variation in between-brain neural coupling is of key importance. Based on theoretical frameworks and empirical data, we argue that the level of between-brain neural coupling reflects speaker-listener alignment at different levels of linguistic and extra-linguistic representation. We discuss the possibility that between-brain neural coupling could inform us about the highest level of inter-speaker alignment: mutual understanding
  • Segaert, K., Wheeldon, L., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Unifying structural priming effects on syntactic choices and timing of sentence generation. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 59-80. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.03.011.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether structural priming of production latencies is sensitive to the same factors known to influence persistence of structural choices: structure preference, cumulativity and verb repetition. In two experiments, we found structural persistence only for passives (inverse preference effect) while priming effects on latencies were stronger for the actives (positive preference effect). We found structural persistence for passives to be influenced by immediate primes and long lasting cumulativity (all preceding primes) (Experiment 1), and to be boosted by verb repetition (Experiment 2). In latencies we found effects for actives were sensitive to long lasting cumulativity (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, in latencies we found priming for actives overall, while for passives the priming effects emerged as the cumulative exposure increased but only when also aided by verb repetition. These findings are consistent with the Two-stage Competition model, an integrated model of structural priming effects for sentence choice and latency

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