Peter Hagoort

Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 387
  • Hagoort, P. (in press). Taal. In Van den Heuvel, Vander Werf, Schmand, Sabbe, & Van Broekhoven (Eds.), Handboek neurowetenschappen voor de klinische psychiatrie. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Uitgeverij de Tijdstroom.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Eisner, F. (2019). Consistency influences altered auditory feedback processing. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(10), 2371-2379. doi:10.1177/1747021819838939.

    Abstract

    Previous research on the effect of perturbed auditory feedback in speech production has focused on two types of responses. In the short term, speakers generate compensatory motor commands in response to unexpected perturbations. In the longer term, speakers adapt feedforward motor programmes in response to feedback perturbations, to avoid future errors. The current study investigated the relation between these two types of responses to altered auditory feedback. Specifically, it was hypothesised that consistency in previous feedback perturbations would influence whether speakers adapt their feedforward motor programmes. In an altered auditory feedback paradigm, formant perturbations were applied either across all trials (the consistent condition) or only to some trials, whereas the others remained unperturbed (the inconsistent condition). The results showed that speakers’ responses were affected by feedback consistency, with stronger speech changes in the consistent condition compared with the inconsistent condition. Current models of speech-motor control can explain this consistency effect. However, the data also suggest that compensation and adaptation are distinct processes, which are not in line with all current models.
  • Hagoort, P. (Ed.). (2019). Human language: From genes and brains to behavior. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P. (2019). The meaning making mechanism(s) behind the eyes and between the ears. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences. Advance online publication. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0301.

    Abstract

    In this contribution, the following four questions are discussed: (i) where is meaning?; (ii) what is meaning?; (iii) what is the meaning of mechanism?; (iv) what are the mechanisms of meaning? I will argue that meanings are in the head. Meanings have multiple facets, but minimally one needs to make a distinction between single word meanings (lexical meaning) and the meanings of multi-word utterances. The latter ones cannot be retrieved from memory, but need to be constructed on the fly. A mechanistic account of the meaning-making mind requires an analysis at both a functional and a neural level, the reason being that these levels are causally interdependent. I will show that an analysis exclusively focusing on patterns of brain activation lacks explanatory power. Finally, I shall present an initial sketch of how the dynamic interaction between temporo-parietal areas and inferior frontal cortex might instantiate the interpretation of linguistic utterances in the context of a multimodal setting and ongoing discourse information.
  • Hagoort, P. (2019). The neurobiology of language beyond single word processing. Science, 366(6461), 55-58. doi:10.1126/science.aax0289.

    Abstract

    In this Review, I propose a multiple-network view for the neurobiological basis of distinctly human language skills. A much more complex picture of interacting brain areas emerges than in the classical neurobiological model of language. This is because using language is more than single-word processing, and much goes on beyond the information given in the acoustic or orthographic tokens that enter primary sensory cortices. This requires the involvement of multiple networks with functionally nonoverlapping contributions

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  • Hagoort, P. (2019). Introduction. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brains to behavior (pp. 1-6). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hagoort, P., & Beckmann, C. F. (2019). Key issues and future directions: The neural architecture for language. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brains to behavior (pp. 527-532). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Heilbron, M., Ehinger, B., Hagoort, P., & De Lange, F. P. (2019). Tracking naturalistic linguistic predictions with deep neural language models. In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience (pp. 424-427). doi:10.32470/CCN.2019.1096-0.

    Abstract

    Prediction in language has traditionally been studied using simple designs in which neural responses to expected and unexpected words are compared in a categorical fashion. However, these designs have been contested as being ‘prediction encouraging’, potentially exaggerating the importance of prediction in language understanding. A few recent studies have begun to address these worries by using model-based approaches to probe the effects of linguistic predictability in naturalistic stimuli (e.g. continuous narrative). However, these studies so far only looked at very local forms of prediction, using models that take no more than the prior two words into account when computing a word’s predictability. Here, we extend this approach using a state-of-the-art neural language model that can take roughly 500 times longer linguistic contexts into account. Predictability estimates fromthe neural network offer amuch better fit to EEG data from subjects listening to naturalistic narrative than simpler models, and reveal strong surprise responses akin to the P200 and N400. These results show that predictability effects in language are not a side-effect of simple designs, and demonstrate the practical use of recent advances in AI for the cognitive neuroscience of language.
  • Hulten, A., Schoffelen, J.-M., Udden, J., Lam, N. H. L., & Hagoort, P. (2019). How the brain makes sense beyond the processing of single words – An MEG study. NeuroImage, 186, 586-594. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.035.

    Abstract

    Human language processing involves combinatorial operations that make human communication stand out in the animal kingdom. These operations rely on a dynamic interplay between the inferior frontal and the posterior temporal cortices. Using source reconstructed magnetoencephalography, we tracked language processing in the brain, in order to investigate how individual words are interpreted when part of sentence context. The large sample size in this study (n = 68) allowed us to assess how event-related activity is associated across distinct cortical areas, by means of inter-areal co-modulation within an individual. We showed that, within 500 ms of seeing a word, the word's lexical information has been retrieved and unified with the sentence context. This does not happen in a strictly feed-forward manner, but by means of co-modulation between the left posterior temporal cortex (LPTC) and left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC), for each individual word. The co-modulation of LIFC and LPTC occurs around 400 ms after the onset of each word, across the progression of a sentence. Moreover, these core language areas are supported early on by the attentional network. The results provide a detailed description of the temporal orchestration related to single word processing in the context of ongoing language.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S1053811918321165-mmc1.pdf
  • Mongelli, V., Meijs, E. L., Van Gaal, S., & Hagoort, P. (2019). No language unification without neural feedback: How awareness affects sentence processing. Neuroimage, 202: 116063. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116063.

    Abstract

    How does the human brain combine a finite number of words to form an infinite variety of sentences? According to the Memory, Unification and Control (MUC) model, sentence processing requires long-range feedback from the left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC) to left posterior temporal cortex (LPTC). Single word processing however may only require feedforward propagation of semantic information from sensory regions to LPTC. Here we tested the claim that long-range feedback is required for sentence processing by reducing visual awareness of words using a masking technique. Masking disrupts feedback processing while leaving feedforward processing relatively intact. Previous studies have shown that masked single words still elicit an N400 ERP effect, a neural signature of semantic incongruency. However, whether multiple words can be combined to form a sentence under reduced levels of awareness is controversial. To investigate this issue, we performed two experiments in which we measured electroencephalography (EEG) while 40 subjects performed a masked priming task. Words were presented either successively or simultaneously, thereby forming a short sentence that could be congruent or incongruent with a target picture. This sentence condition was compared with a typical single word condition. In the masked condition we only found an N400 effect for single words, whereas in the unmasked condition we observed an N400 effect for both unmasked sentences and single words. Our findings suggest that long-range feedback processing is required for sentence processing, but not for single word processing.
  • Preisig, B., Sjerps, M. J., Hervais-Adelman, A., Kösem, A., Hagoort, P., & Riecke, L. (2019). Bilateral gamma/delta transcranial alternating current stimulation affects interhemispheric speech sound integration. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01498.

    Abstract

    Perceiving speech requires the integration of different speech cues, that is, formants. When the speech signal is split so that different cues are presented to the right and left ear (dichotic listening), comprehension requires the integration of binaural information. Based on prior electrophysiological evidence, we hypothesized that the integration of dichotically presented speech cues is enabled by interhemispheric phase synchronization between primary and secondary auditory cortex in the gamma frequency band. We tested this hypothesis by applying transcranial alternating current stimulation (TACS) bilaterally above the superior temporal lobe to induce or disrupt interhemispheric gamma-phase coupling. In contrast to initial predictions, we found that gamma TACS applied in-phase above the two hemispheres (interhemispheric lag 0°) perturbs interhemispheric integration of speech cues, possibly because the applied stimulation perturbs an inherent phase lag between the left and right auditory cortex. We also observed this disruptive effect when applying antiphasic delta TACS (interhemispheric lag 180°). We conclude that interhemispheric phase coupling plays a functional role in interhemispheric speech integration. The direction of this effect may depend on the stimulation frequency.
  • Schoffelen, J.-M., Oostenveld, R., Lam, N. H. L., Udden, J., Hulten, A., & Hagoort, P. (2019). A 204-subject multimodal neuroimaging dataset to study language processing. Scientific Data, 6(1): 17. doi:10.1038/s41597-019-0020-y.

    Abstract

    This dataset, colloquially known as the Mother Of Unification Studies (MOUS) dataset, contains multimodal neuroimaging data that has been acquired from 204 healthy human subjects. The neuroimaging protocol consisted of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to derive information at high spatial resolution about brain anatomy and structural connections, and functional data during task, and at rest. In addition, magnetoencephalography (MEG) was used to obtain high temporal resolution electrophysiological measurements during task, and at rest. All subjects performed a language task, during which they processed linguistic utterances that either consisted of normal or scrambled sentences. Half of the subjects were reading the stimuli, the other half listened to the stimuli. The resting state measurements consisted of 5 minutes eyes-open for the MEG and 7 minutes eyes-closed for fMRI. The neuroimaging data, as well as the information about the experimental events are shared according to the Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) format. This unprecedented neuroimaging language data collection allows for the investigation of various aspects of the neurobiological correlates of language.
  • Schoot, L., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2019). Stronger syntactic alignment in the presence of an interlocutor. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 685. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00685.

    Abstract

    Speakers are influenced by the linguistic context: hearing one syntactic alternative leads to an increased chance that the speaker will repeat this structure in the subsequent utterance (i.e., syntactic priming, or structural persistence). Top-down influences, such as whether a conversation partner (or, interlocutor) is present, may modulate the degree to which syntactic priming occurs. In the current study, we indeed show that the magnitude of syntactic alignment increases when speakers are interacting with an interlocutor as opposed to doing the experiment alone. The structural persistence effect for passive sentences is stronger in the presence of an interlocutor than when no interlocutor is present (i.e., when the participant is primed by a recording). We did not find evidence, however, that a speaker’s syntactic priming magnitude is influenced by the degree of their conversation partner’s priming magnitude. Together, these results support a mediated account of syntactic priming, in which syntactic choices are not only affected by preceding linguistic input, but also by top-down influences, such as the speakers’ communicative intent.
  • Sharoh, D., Van Mourik, T., Bains, L. J., Segaert, K., Weber, K., Hagoort, P., & Norris, D. (2019). Laminar specific fMRI reveals directed interactions in distributed networks during language processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(42), 21185-21190. doi:10.1073/pnas.1907858116.

    Abstract

    Interactions between top-down and bottom-up information streams are integral to brain function but challenging to measure noninvasively. Laminar resolution, functional MRI (lfMRI) is sensitive to depth-dependent properties of the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response, which can be potentially related to top-down and bottom-up signal contributions. In this work, we used lfMRI to dissociate the top-down and bottom-up signal contributions to the left occipitotemporal sulcus (LOTS) during word reading. We further demonstrate that laminar resolution measurements could be used to identify condition-specific distributed networks on the basis of whole-brain connectivity patterns specific to the depth-dependent BOLD signal. The networks corresponded to top-down and bottom-up signal pathways targeting the LOTS during word reading. We show that reading increased the top-down BOLD signal observed in the deep layers of the LOTS and that this signal uniquely related to the BOLD response in other language-critical regions. These results demonstrate that lfMRI can reveal important patterns of activation that are obscured at standard resolution. In addition to differences in activation strength as a function of depth, we also show meaningful differences in the interaction between signals originating from different depths both within a region and with the rest of the brain. We thus show that lfMRI allows the noninvasive measurement of directed interaction between brain regions and is capable of resolving different connectivity patterns at submillimeter resolution, something previously considered to be exclusively in the domain of invasive recordings.
  • Udden, J., Hulten, A., Bendt, K., Mineroff, Z., Kucera, K. S., Vino, A., Fedorenko, E., Hagoort, P., & Fisher, S. E. (2019). Towards robust functional neuroimaging genetics of cognition. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(44), 8778-8787. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0888-19.2019.

    Abstract

    A commonly held assumption in cognitive neuroscience is that, because measures of human brain function are closer to underlying biology than distal indices of behavior/cognition, they hold more promise for uncovering genetic pathways. Supporting this view is an influential fMRI-based study of sentence reading/listening by Pinel et al. (2012), who reported that common DNA variants in specific candidate genes were associated with altered neural activation in language-related regions of healthy individuals that carried them. In particular, different single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of FOXP2 correlated with variation in task-based activation in left inferior frontal and precentral gyri, whereas a SNP at the KIAA0319/TTRAP/THEM2 locus was associated with variable functional asymmetry of the superior temporal sulcus. Here, we directly test each claim using a closely matched neuroimaging genetics approach in independent cohorts comprising 427 participants, four times larger than the original study of 94 participants. Despite demonstrating power to detect associations with substantially smaller effect sizes than those of the original report, we do not replicate any of the reported associations. Moreover, formal Bayesian analyses reveal substantial to strong evidence in support of the null hypothesis (no effect). We highlight key aspects of the original investigation, common to functional neuroimaging genetics studies, which could have yielded elevated false-positive rates. Genetic accounts of individual differences in cognitive functional neuroimaging are likely to be as complex as behavioral/cognitive tests, involving many common genetic variants, each of tiny effect. Reliable identification of true biological signals requires large sample sizes, power calculations, and validation in independent cohorts with equivalent paradigms. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT A pervasive idea in neuroscience is that neuroimaging-based measures of brain function, being closer to underlying neurobiology, are more amenable for uncovering links to genetics. This is a core assumption of prominent studies that associate common DNA variants with altered activations in task-based fMRI, despite using samples (10–100 people) that lack power for detecting the tiny effect sizes typical of genetically complex traits. Here, we test central findings from one of the most influential prior studies. Using matching paradigms and substantially larger samples, coupled to power calculations and formal Bayesian statistics, our data strongly refute the original findings. We demonstrate that neuroimaging genetics with task-based fMRI should be subject to the same rigorous standards as studies of other complex traits.
  • Weber, K., Christiansen, M., Indefrey, P., & Hagoort, P. (2019). Primed from the start: Syntactic priming during the first days of language learning. Language Learning, 69(1), 198-221. doi:10.1111/lang.12327.

    Abstract

    New linguistic information must be integrated into our existing language system. Using a novel experimental task that incorporates a syntactic priming paradigm into artificial language learning, we investigated how new grammatical regularities and words are learned. This innovation allowed us to control the language input the learner received, while the syntactic priming paradigm provided insight into the nature of the underlying syntactic processing machinery. The results of the present study pointed to facilitatory syntactic processing effects within the first days of learning: Syntactic and lexical priming effects revealed participants’ sensitivity to both novel words and word orders. This suggested that novel syntactic structures and their meaning (form–function mapping) can be acquired rapidly through incidental learning. More generally, our study indicated similar mechanisms for learning and processing in both artificial and natural languages, with implications for the relationship between first and second language learning.

  • Zhu, Z., Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Hakun, J. G., Petersson, K. M., Wang, S., & Hagoort, P. (2019). Semantic unification modulates N400 and BOLD signal change in the brain: A simultaneous EEG-fMRI study. Journal of Neurolinguistics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2019.100855.

    Abstract

    Semantic unification during sentence comprehension has been associated with amplitude change of the N400 in event-related potential (ERP) studies, and activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. However, the specificity of this activation to semantic unification remains unknown. To more closely examine the brain processes involved in semantic unification, we employed simultaneous EEG-fMRI to time-lock the semantic unification related N400 change, and integrated trial-by-trial variation in both N400 and BOLD change beyond the condition-level BOLD change difference measured in traditional fMRI analyses. Participants read sentences in which semantic unification load was parametrically manipulated by varying cloze probability. Separately, ERP and fMRI results replicated previous findings, in that semantic unification load parametrically modulated the amplitude of N400 and cortical activation. Integrated EEG-fMRI analyses revealed a different pattern in which functional activity in the left IFG and bilateral supramarginal gyrus (SMG) was associated with N400 amplitude, with the left IFG activation and bilateral SMG activation being selective to the condition-level and trial-level of semantic unification load, respectively. By employing the EEG-fMRI integrated analyses, this study among the first sheds light on how to integrate trial-level variation in language comprehension.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    13428_2017_929_MOESM1_ESM.docx
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    mmc1.docx
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dai, B., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Kösem, A. (2017). Pure linguistic interference during comprehension of competing speech signals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 141, EL249-EL254. doi:10.1121/1.4977590.

    Abstract

    Speech-in-speech perception can be challenging because the processing of competing acoustic and linguistic information leads to informational masking. Here, a method is proposed to isolate the linguistic component of informational masking while keeping the distractor's acoustic information unchanged. Participants performed a dichotic listening cocktail-party task before and after training on 4-band noise-vocoded sentences that became intelligible through the training. Distracting noise-vocoded speech interfered more with target speech comprehension after training (i.e., when intelligible) than before training (i.e., when unintelligible) at −3 dB SNR. These findings confirm that linguistic and acoustic information have distinct masking effects during speech-in‐speech comprehension
  • Franken, M. K., Eisner, F., Schoffelen, J.-M., Acheson, D. J., Hagoort, P., & McQueen, J. M. (2017). Audiovisual recalibration of vowel categories. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 655-658). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-122.

    Abstract

    One of the most daunting tasks of a listener is to map a continuous auditory stream onto known speech sound categories and lexical items. A major issue with this mapping problem is the variability in the acoustic realizations of sound categories, both within and across speakers. Past research has suggested listeners may use visual information (e.g., lipreading) to calibrate these speech categories to the current speaker. Previous studies have focused on audiovisual recalibration of consonant categories. The present study explores whether vowel categorization, which is known to show less sharply defined category boundaries, also benefit from visual cues. Participants were exposed to videos of a speaker pronouncing one out of two vowels, paired with audio that was ambiguous between the two vowels. After exposure, it was found that participants had recalibrated their vowel categories. In addition, individual variability in audiovisual recalibration is discussed. It is suggested that listeners’ category sharpness may be related to the weight they assign to visual information in audiovisual speech perception. Specifically, listeners with less sharp categories assign more weight to visual information during audiovisual speech recognition.
  • Franken, M. K., Acheson, D. J., McQueen, J. M., Eisner, F., & Hagoort, P. (2017). Individual variability as a window on production-perception interactions in speech motor control. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(4), 2007-2018. doi:10.1121/1.5006899.

    Abstract

    An important part of understanding speech motor control consists of capturing the interaction between speech production and speech perception. This study tests a prediction of theoretical frameworks that have tried to account for these interactions: if speech production targets are specified in auditory terms, individuals with better auditory acuity should have more precise speech targets, evidenced by decreased within-phoneme variability and increased between-phoneme distance. A study was carried out consisting of perception and production tasks in counterbalanced order. Auditory acuity was assessed using an adaptive speech discrimination task, while production variability was determined using a pseudo-word reading task. Analyses of the production data were carried out to quantify average within-phoneme variability as well as average between-phoneme contrasts. Results show that individuals not only vary in their production and perceptual abilities, but that better discriminators have more distinctive vowel production targets (that is, targets with less within-phoneme variability and greater between-phoneme distances), confirming the initial hypothesis. This association between speech production and perception did not depend on local phoneme density in vowel space. This study suggests that better auditory acuity leads to more precise speech production targets, which may be a consequence of auditory feedback affecting speech production over time.
  • Hagoort, P. (2017). It is the facts, stupid. In J. Brockman, F. Van der Wa, & H. Corver (Eds.), Wetenschappelijke parels: het belangrijkste wetenschappelijke nieuws volgens 193 'briljante geesten'. Amsterdam: Maven Press.
  • Hagoort, P. (2017). Don't forget neurobiology: An experimental approach to linguistic representation. Commentary on Branigan and Pickering "An experimental approach to linguistic representation". Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40: e292. doi:10.1017/S0140525X17000401.

    Abstract

    Acceptability judgments are no longer acceptable as the holy grail for testing the nature of linguistic representations. Experimental and quantitative methods should be used to test theoretical claims in psycholinguistics. These methods should include not only behavior, but also the more recent possibilities to probe the neural codes for language-relevant representation
  • Hagoort, P. (2017). The core and beyond in the language-ready brain. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 81, 194-204. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.01.048.

    Abstract

    In this paper a general cognitive architecture of spoken language processing is specified. This is followed by an account of how this cognitive architecture is instantiated in the human brain. Both the spatial aspects of the networks for language are discussed, as well as the temporal dynamics and the underlying neurophysiology. A distinction is proposed between networks for coding/decoding linguistic information and additional networks for getting from coded meaning to speaker meaning, i.e. for making the inferences that enable the listener to understand the intentions of the speaker
  • Hagoort, P. (2017). The neural basis for primary and acquired language skills. In E. Segers, & P. Van den Broek (Eds.), Developmental Perspectives in Written Language and Literacy: In honor of Ludo Verhoeven (pp. 17-28). Amsterdam: Benjamins. doi:10.1075/z.206.02hag.

    Abstract

    Reading is a cultural invention that needs to recruit cortical infrastructure that was not designed for it (cultural recycling of cortical maps). In the case of reading both visual cortex and networks for speech processing are recruited. Here I discuss current views on the neurobiological underpinnings of spoken language that deviate in a number of ways from the classical Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model. More areas than Broca’s and Wernicke’s region are involved in language. Moreover, a division along the axis of language production and language comprehension does not seem to be warranted. Instead, for central aspects of language processing neural infrastructure is shared between production and comprehension. Arguments are presented in favor of a dynamic network view, in which the functionality of a region is co-determined by the network of regions in which it is embedded at particular moments in time. Finally, core regions of language processing need to interact with other networks (e.g. the attentional networks and the ToM network) to establish full functionality of language and communication. The consequences of this architecture for reading are discussed.
  • Hartung, F., Hagoort, P., & Willems, R. M. (2017). Readers select a comprehension mode independent of pronoun: Evidence from fMRI during narrative comprehension. Brain and Language, 170, 29-38. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2017.03.007.

    Abstract

    Perspective is a crucial feature for communicating about events. Yet it is unclear how linguistically encoded perspective relates to cognitive perspective taking. Here, we tested the effect of perspective taking with short literary stories. Participants listened to stories with 1st or 3rd person pronouns referring to the protagonist, while undergoing fMRI. When comparing action events with 1st and 3rd person pronouns, we found no evidence for a neural dissociation depending on the pronoun. A split sample approach based on the self-reported experience of perspective taking revealed 3 comprehension preferences. One group showed a strong 1st person preference, another a strong 3rd person preference, while a third group engaged in 1st and 3rd person perspective taking simultaneously. Comparing brain activations of the groups revealed different neural networks. Our results suggest that comprehension is perspective dependent, but not on the perspective suggested by the text, but on the reader’s (situational) preference
  • Hartung, F., Withers, P., Hagoort, P., & Willems, R. M. (2017). When fiction is just as real as fact: No differences in reading behavior between stories believed to be based on true or fictional events. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 1618. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01618.

    Abstract

    Experiments have shown that compared to fictional texts, readers read factual texts faster and have better memory for described situations. Reading fictional texts on the other hand seems to improve memory for exact wordings and expressions. Most of these studies used a ‘newspaper’ versus ‘literature’ comparison. In the present study, we investigated the effect of reader’s expectation to whether information is true or fictional with a subtler manipulation by labelling short stories as either based on true or fictional events. In addition, we tested whether narrative perspective or individual preference in perspective taking affects reading true or fictional stories differently. In an online experiment, participants (final N=1742) read one story which was introduced as based on true events or as fictional (factor fictionality). The story could be narrated in either 1st or 3rd person perspective (factor perspective). We measured immersion in and appreciation of the story, perspective taking, as well as memory for events. We found no evidence that knowing a story is fictional or based on true events influences reading behavior or experiential aspects of reading. We suggest that it is not whether a story is true or fictional, but rather expectations towards certain reading situations (e.g. reading newspaper or literature) which affect behavior by activating appropriate reading goals. Results further confirm that narrative perspective partially influences perspective taking and experiential aspects of reading
  • Heyselaar, E., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2017). How social opinion influences syntactic processing – An investigation using virtual reality. PLoS One, 12(4): e0174405. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174405.
  • Heyselaar, E., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2017). In dialogue with an avatar, language behavior is identical to dialogue with a human partner. Behavior Research Methods, 49(1), 46-60. doi:10.3758/s13428-015-0688-7.

    Abstract

    The use of virtual reality (VR) as a methodological tool is becoming increasingly popular in behavioral research as its flexibility allows for a wide range of applications. This new method has not been as widely accepted in the field of psycholinguistics, however, possibly due to the assumption that language processing during human-computer interactions does not accurately reflect human-human interactions. Yet at the same time there is a growing need to study human-human language interactions in a tightly controlled context, which has not been possible using existing methods. VR, however, offers experimental control over parameters that cannot be (as finely) controlled in the real world. As such, in this study we aim to show that human-computer language interaction is comparable to human-human language interaction in virtual reality. In the current study we compare participants’ language behavior in a syntactic priming task with human versus computer partners: we used a human partner, a human-like avatar with human-like facial expressions and verbal behavior, and a computer-like avatar which had this humanness removed. As predicted, our study shows comparable priming effects between the human and human-like avatar suggesting that participants attributed human-like agency to the human-like avatar. Indeed, when interacting with the computer-like avatar, the priming effect was significantly decreased. This suggests that when interacting with a human-like avatar, sentence processing is comparable to interacting with a human partner. Our study therefore shows that VR is a valid platform for conducting language research and studying dialogue interactions in an ecologically valid manner.
  • Heyselaar, E., Segaert, K., Walvoort, S. J., Kessels, R. P., & Hagoort, P. (2017). The role of nondeclarative memory in the skill for language: Evidence from syntactic priming in patients with amnesia. Neuropsychologia, 101, 97-105. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.04.033.

    Abstract

    Syntactic priming, the phenomenon in which participants adopt the linguistic behaviour of their partner, is widely used in psycholinguistics to investigate syntactic operations. Although the phenomenon of syntactic priming is well documented, the memory system that supports the retention of this syntactic information long enough to influence future utterances, is not as widely investigated. We aim to shed light on this issue by assessing patients with Korsakoff's amnesia on an active-passive syntactic priming task and compare their performance to controls matched in age, education, and premorbid intelligence. Patients with Korsakoff's syndrome display deficits in all subdomains of declarative memory, yet their nondeclarative memory remains intact, making them an ideal patient group to determine which memory system supports syntactic priming. In line with the hypothesis that syntactic priming relies on nondeclarative memory, the patient group shows strong priming tendencies (12.6% passive structure repetition). Our healthy control group did not show a priming tendency, presumably due to cognitive interference between declarative and nondeclarative memory. We discuss the results in relation to amnesia, aging, and compensatory mechanisms.
  • Peeters, D., Snijders, T. M., Hagoort, P., & Ozyurek, A. (2017). Linking language to the visual world: Neural correlates of comprehending verbal reference to objects through pointing and visual cues. Neuropsychologia, 95, 21-29. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.12.004.

    Abstract

    In everyday communication speakers often refer in speech and/or gesture to objects in their immediate environment, thereby shifting their addressee's attention to an intended referent. The neurobiological infrastructure involved in the comprehension of such basic multimodal communicative acts remains unclear. In an event-related fMRI study, we presented participants with pictures of a speaker and two objects while they concurrently listened to her speech. In each picture, one of the objects was singled out, either through the speaker's index-finger pointing gesture or through a visual cue that made the object perceptually more salient in the absence of gesture. A mismatch (compared to a match) between speech and the object singled out by the speaker's pointing gesture led to enhanced activation in left IFG and bilateral pMTG, showing the importance of these areas in conceptual matching between speech and referent. Moreover, a match (compared to a mismatch) between speech and the object made salient through a visual cue led to enhanced activation in the mentalizing system, arguably reflecting an attempt to converge on a jointly attended referent in the absence of pointing. These findings shed new light on the neurobiological underpinnings of the core communicative process of comprehending a speaker's multimodal referential act and stress the power of pointing as an important natural device to link speech to objects.
  • Schoffelen, J.-M., Hulten, A., Lam, N. H. L., Marquand, A. F., Udden, J., & Hagoort, P. (2017). Frequency-specific directed interactions in the human brain network for language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(30), 8083-8088. doi:10.1073/pnas.1703155114.

    Abstract

    The brain’s remarkable capacity for language requires bidirectional interactions between functionally specialized brain regions. We used magnetoencephalography to investigate interregional interactions in the brain network for language while 102 participants were reading sentences. Using Granger causality analysis, we identified inferior frontal cortex and anterior temporal regions to receive widespread input and middle temporal regions to send widespread output. This fits well with the notion that these regions play a central role in language processing. Characterization of the functional topology of this network, using data-driven matrix factorization, which allowed for partitioning into a set of subnetworks, revealed directed connections at distinct frequencies of interaction. Connections originating from temporal regions peaked at alpha frequency, whereas connections originating from frontal and parietal regions peaked at beta frequency. These findings indicate that the information flow between language-relevant brain areas, which is required for linguistic processing, may depend on the contributions of distinct brain rhythms

    Supplementary material

    pnas.201703155SI.pdf
  • Silva, S., Folia, V., Hagoort, P., & Petersson, K. M. (2017). The P600 in Implicit Artificial Grammar Learning. Cognitive Science, 41(1), 137-157. doi:10.1111/cogs.12343.

    Abstract

    The suitability of the Artificial Grammar Learning (AGL) paradigm to capture relevant aspects of the acquisition of linguistic structures has been empirically tested in a number of EEG studies. Some have shown a syntax-related P600 component, but it has not been ruled out that the AGL P600 effect is a response to surface features (e.g., subsequence familiarity) rather than the underlying syntax structure. Therefore, in this study, we controlled for the surface characteristics of the test sequences (associative chunk strength) and recorded the EEG before (baseline preference classification) and after (preference and grammaticality classification) exposure to a grammar. A typical, centroparietal P600 effect was elicited by grammatical violations after exposure, suggesting that the AGL P600 effect signals a response to structural irregularities. Moreover, preference and grammaticality classification showed a qualitatively similar ERP profile, strengthening the idea that the implicit structural mere exposure paradigm in combination with preference classification is a suitable alternative to the traditional grammaticality classification test.
  • Ye, Z., Stolk, A., Toni, I., & Hagoort, P. (2017). Oxytocin modulates semantic integration in speech comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29, 267-276. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01044.

    Abstract

    Listeners interpret utterances by integrating information from multiple sources including word level semantics and world knowledge. When the semantics of an expression is inconsistent with his or her knowledge about the world, the listener may have to search through the conceptual space for alternative possible world scenarios that can make the expression more acceptable. Such cognitive exploration requires considerable computational resources and might depend on motivational factors. This study explores whether and how oxytocin, a neuropeptide known to influence socialmotivation by reducing social anxiety and enhancing affiliative tendencies, can modulate the integration of world knowledge and sentence meanings. The study used a betweenparticipant double-blind randomized placebo-controlled design. Semantic integration, indexed with magnetoencephalography through the N400m marker, was quantified while 45 healthymale participants listened to sentences that were either congruent or incongruent with facts of the world, after receiving intranasally delivered oxytocin or placebo. Compared with congruent sentences, world knowledge incongruent sentences elicited a stronger N400m signal from the left inferior frontal and anterior temporal regions and medial pFC (the N400m effect) in the placebo group. Oxytocin administration significantly attenuated the N400meffect at both sensor and cortical source levels throughout the experiment, in a state-like manner. Additional electrophysiological markers suggest that the absence of the N400m effect in the oxytocin group is unlikely due to the lack of early sensory or semantic processing or a general downregulation of attention. These findings suggest that oxytocin drives listeners to resolve challenges of semantic integration, possibly by promoting the cognitive exploration of alternative possible world scenarios.
  • Tsuji, S., Fikkert, P., Minagawa, Y., Dupoux, E., Filippin, L., Versteegh, M., Hagoort, P., & Cristia, A. (2017). The more, the better? Behavioral and neural correlates of frequent and infrequent vowel exposure. Developmental Psychobiology, 59, 603-612. doi:10.1002/dev.21534.

    Abstract

    A central assumption in the perceptual attunement literature holds that exposure to a speech sound contrast leads to improvement in native speech sound processing. However, whether the amount of exposure matters for this process has not been put to a direct test. We elucidated indicators of frequency-dependent perceptual attunement by comparing 5–8-month-old Dutch infants’ discrimination of tokens containing a highly frequent [hɪt-he:t] and a highly infrequent [hʏt-hø:t] native vowel contrast as well as a non-native [hɛt-hæt] vowel contrast in a behavioral visual habituation paradigm (Experiment 1). Infants discriminated both native contrasts similarly well, but did not discriminate the non-native contrast. We sought further evidence for subtle differences in the processing of the two native contrasts using near-infrared spectroscopy and a within-participant design (Experiment 2). The neuroimaging data did not provide additional evidence that responses to native contrasts are modulated by frequency of exposure. These results suggest that even large differences in exposure to a native contrast may not directly translate to behavioral and neural indicators of perceptual attunement, raising the possibility that frequency of exposure does not influence improvements in discriminating native contrasts.

    Supplementary material

    dev21534-sup-0001-SuppInfo-S1.docx
  • Udden, J., Ingvar, M., Hagoort, P., & Petersson, K. M. (2017). Broca’s region: A causal role in implicit processing of grammars with crossed non-adjacent dependencies. Cognition, 164, 188-198. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.03.010.

    Abstract

    Non-adjacent dependencies are challenging for the language learning machinery and are acquired later than adjacent dependencies. In this transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study, we show that participants successfully discriminated between grammatical and non-grammatical sequences after having implicitly acquired an artificial language with crossed non-adjacent dependencies. Subsequent to transcranial magnetic stimulation of Broca’s region, discrimination was impaired compared to when a language-irrelevant control region (vertex) was stimulated. These results support the view that Broca’s region is engaged in structured sequence processing and extend previous functional neuroimaging results on artificial grammar learning (AGL) in two directions: first, the results establish that Broca’s region is a causal component in the processing of non-adjacent dependencies, and second, they show that implicit processing of non-adjacent dependencies engages Broca’s region. Since patients with lesions in Broca’s region do not always show grammatical processing difficulties, the result that Broca’s region is causally linked to processing of non-adjacent dependencies is a step towards clarification of the exact nature of syntactic deficits caused by lesions or perturbation to Broca’s region. Our findings are consistent with previous results and support a role for Broca’s region in general structured sequence processing, rather than a specific role for the processing of hierarchically organized sentence structure.
  • Udden, J., Snijders, T. M., Fisher, S. E., & Hagoort, P. (2017). A common variant of the CNTNAP2 gene is associated with structural variation in the left superior occipital gyrus. Brain and Language, 172, 16-21. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2016.02.003.

    Abstract

    The CNTNAP2 gene encodes a cell-adhesion molecule that influences the properties of neural networks and the morphology and density of neurons and glial cells. Previous studies have shown association of CNTNAP2 variants with language-related phenotypes in health and disease. Here, we report associations of a common CNTNAP2 polymorphism (rs7794745) with variation in grey matter in a region in the dorsal visual stream. We tried to replicate an earlier study on 314 subjects by Tan and colleagues (2010), but now in a substantially larger group of more than 1700 subjects. Carriers of the T allele showed reduced grey matter volume in left superior occipital gyrus, while we did not replicate associations with grey matter volume in other regions identified by Tan et al (2010). Our work illustrates the importance of independent replication in neuroimaging genetic studies of language-related candidate genes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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., 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    https://osf.io/ema3t/
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

    Supplementary material

    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
  • Tromp, J., Hagoort, P., & Meyer, A. S. (2016). Pupillometry reveals increased pupil size during indirect request comprehension. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 1093-1108. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1065282.

    Abstract

    Fluctuations in pupil size have been shown to reflect variations in processing demands during lexical and syntactic processing in language comprehension. An issue that has not received attention is whether pupil size also varies due to pragmatic manipulations. In two pupillometry experiments, we investigated whether pupil diameter was sensitive to increased processing demands as a result of comprehending an indirect request versus a direct statement. Adult participants were presented with 120 picture–sentence combinations that could be interpreted either as an indirect request (a picture of a window with the sentence “it's very hot here”) or as a statement (a picture of a window with the sentence “it's very nice here”). Based on the hypothesis that understanding indirect utterances requires additional inferences to be made on the part of the listener, we predicted a larger pupil diameter for indirect requests than statements. The results of both experiments are consistent with this expectation. We suggest that the increase in pupil size reflects additional processing demands for the comprehension of indirect requests as compared to statements. This research demonstrates the usefulness of pupillometry as a tool for experimental research in pragmatics
  • Vanlangendonck, F., Willems, R. M., Menenti, L., & Hagoort, P. (2016). An early influence of common ground during speech planning. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(6), 741-750. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1148747.

    Abstract

    In order to communicate successfully, speakers have to take into account which information they share with their addressee, i.e. common ground. In the current experiment we investigated how and when common ground affects speech planning by tracking speakers’ eye movements while they played a referential communication game. We found evidence that common ground exerts an early, but incomplete effect on speech planning. In addition, we did not find longer planning times when speakers had to take common ground into account, suggesting that taking common ground into account is not necessarily an effortful process. Common ground information thus appears to act as a partial constraint on language production that is integrated flexibly and efficiently in the speech planning process.
  • Weber, K., Luther, L., Indefrey, P., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Overlap and differences in brain networks underlying the processing of complex sentence structures in second language users compared to native speakers. Brain Connectivity, 6(4), 345-355. doi:10.1089/brain.2015.0383.

    Abstract

    When we learn a second language later in life do we integrate it with the established neural networks in place for the first language or is at least a partially new network recruited? While there is evidence that simple grammatical structures in a second language share a system with the native language, the story becomes more multifaceted for complex sentence structures. In this study we investigated the underlying brain networks in native speakers compared to proficient second language users while processing complex sentences. As hypothesized, complex structures were processed by the same large-scale inferior frontal and middle temporal language networks of the brain in the second language, as seen in native speakers. These effects were seen both in activations as well as task-related connectivity patterns. Furthermore, the second language users showed increased task-related connectivity from inferior frontal to inferior parietal regions of the brain, regions related to attention and cognitive control, suggesting less automatic processing for these structures in a second language.
  • Weber, K., Christiansen, M., Petersson, K. M., Indefrey, P., & Hagoort, P. (2016). fMRI syntactic and lexical repetition effects reveal the initial stages of learning a new language. The Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 6872-6880. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3180-15.2016.

    Abstract

    When learning a new language, we build brain networks to process and represent the acquired words and syntax and integrate these with existing language representations. It is an open question whether the same or different neural mechanisms are involved in learning and processing a novel language compared to the native language(s). Here we investigated the neural repetition effects of repeating known and novel word orders while human subjects were in the early stages of learning a new language. Combining a miniature language with a syntactic priming paradigm, we examined the neural correlates of language learning online using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and posterior temporal cortex the repetition of novel syntactic structures led to repetition enhancement, while repetition of known structures resulted in repetition suppression. Additional verb repetition led to an increase in the syntactic repetition enhancement effect in language-related brain regions. Similarly the repetition of verbs led to repetition enhancement effects in areas related to lexical and semantic processing, an effect that continued to increase in a subset of these regions. Repetition enhancement might reflect a mechanism to build and strengthen a neural network to process novel syntactic structures and lexical items. By contrast, the observed repetition suppression points to overlapping neural mechanisms for native and new language constructions when these have sufficient structural similarities.
  • Willems, R. M., Frank, S. L., Nijhoff, A. D., Hagoort, P., & Van den Bosch, A. (2016). Prediction during natural language comprehension. Cerebral Cortex, 26(6), 2506-2516. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv075.

    Abstract

    The notion of prediction is studied in cognitive neuroscience with increasing intensity. We investigated the neural basis of 2 distinct aspects of word prediction, derived from information theory, during story comprehension. We assessed the effect of entropy of next-word probability distributions as well as surprisal. A computational model determined entropy and surprisal for each word in 3 literary stories. Twenty-four healthy participants listened to the same 3 stories while their brain activation was measured using fMRI. Reversed speech fragments were presented as a control condition. Brain areas sensitive to entropy were left ventral premotor cortex, left middle frontal gyrus, right inferior frontal gyrus, left inferior parietal lobule, and left supplementary motor area. Areas sensitive to surprisal were left inferior temporal sulcus (“visual word form area”), bilateral superior temporal gyrus, right amygdala, bilateral anterior temporal poles, and right inferior frontal sulcus. We conclude that prediction during language comprehension can occur at several levels of processing, including at the level of word form. Our study exemplifies the power of combining computational linguistics with cognitive neuroscience, and additionally underlines the feasibility of studying continuous spoken language materials with fMRI.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary Material
  • Asaridou, S. S., Hagoort, P., & McQueen, J. M. (2015). Effects of early bilingual experience with a tone and a non-tone language on speech-music. PLoS One, 10(12): e0144225. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144225.

    Abstract

    We investigated music and language processing in a group of early bilinguals who spoke a tone language and a non-tone language (Cantonese and Dutch). We assessed online speech-music processing interactions, that is, interactions that occur when speech and music are processed simultaneously in songs, with a speeded classification task. In this task, participants judged sung pseudowords either musically (based on the direction of the musical interval) or phonologically (based on the identity of the sung vowel). We also assessed longer-term effects of linguistic experience on musical ability, that is, the influence of extensive prior experience with language when processing music. These effects were assessed with a task in which participants had to learn to identify musical intervals and with four pitch-perception tasks. Our hypothesis was that due to their experience in two different languages using lexical versus intonational tone, the early Cantonese-Dutch bilinguals would outperform the Dutch control participants. In online processing, the Cantonese-Dutch bilinguals processed speech and music more holistically than controls. This effect seems to be driven by experience with a tone language, in which integration of segmental and pitch information is fundamental. Regarding longer-term effects of linguistic experience, we found no evidence for a bilingual advantage in either the music-interval learning task or the pitch-perception tasks. Together, these results suggest that being a Cantonese-Dutch bilingual does not have any measurable longer-term effects on pitch and music processing, but does have consequences for how speech and music are processed jointly.

    Supplementary material

    Data Availability
  • Baggio, G., van Lambalgen, M., & Hagoort, P. (2015). Logic as Marr's computational level: Four case studies. Topics in Cognitive Science, 7, 287-298. doi:10.1111/tops.12125.

    Abstract

    We sketch four applications of Marr's levels-of-analysis methodology to the relations between logic and experimental data in the cognitive neuroscience of language and reasoning. The first part of the paper illustrates the explanatory power of computational level theories based on logic. We show that a Bayesian treatment of the suppression task in reasoning with conditionals is ruled out by EEG data, supporting instead an analysis based on defeasible logic. Further, we describe how results from an EEG study on temporal prepositions can be reanalyzed using formal semantics, addressing a potential confound. The second part of the article demonstrates the predictive power of logical theories drawing on EEG data on processing progressive constructions and on behavioral data on conditional reasoning in people with autism. Logical theories can constrain processing hypotheses all the way down to neurophysiology, and conversely neuroscience data can guide the selection of alternative computational level models of cognition.
  • Bašnákova, J., Van Berkum, J. J. A., Weber, K., & Hagoort, P. (2015). A job interview in the MRI scanner: How does indirectness affect addressees and overhearers? Neuropsychologia, 76, 79-91. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.03.030.

    Abstract

    In using language, people not only exchange information, but also navigate their social world – for example, they can express themselves indirectly to avoid losing face. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we investigated the neural correlates of interpreting face-saving indirect replies, in a situation where participants only overheard the replies as part of a conversation between two other people, as well as in a situation where the participants were directly addressed themselves. We created a fictional job interview context where indirect replies serve as a natural communicative strategy to attenuate one’s shortcomings, and asked fMRI participants to either pose scripted questions and receive answers from three putative job candidates (addressee condition) or to listen to someone else interview the same candidates (overhearer condition). In both cases, the need to evaluate the candidate ensured that participants had an active interest in comprehending the replies. Relative to direct replies, face-saving indirect replies increased activation in medial prefrontal cortex, bilateral temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral middle temporal gyrus, in active overhearers and active addressees alike, with similar effect size, and comparable to findings obtained in an earlier passive listening study (Bašnáková et al., 2013). In contrast, indirectness effects in bilateral anterior insula and pregenual ACC, two regions implicated in emotional salience and empathy, were reliably stronger in addressees than in active overhearers. Our findings indicate that understanding face-saving indirect language requires additional cognitive perspective-taking and other discourse-relevant cognitive processing, to a comparable extent in active overhearers and addressees. Furthermore, they indicate that face-saving indirect language draws upon affective systems more in addressees than in overhearers, presumably because the addressee is the one being managed by a face-saving reply. In all, face-saving indirectness provides a window on the cognitive as well as affect-related neural systems involved in human communication.
  • Bastiaansen, M. C. M., & Hagoort, P. (2015). Frequency-based segregation of syntactic and semantic unification during online sentence level language comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(11), 2095-2107. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00829.

    Abstract

    During sentence level language comprehension, semantic and syntactic unification are functionally distinct operations. Nevertheless, both recruit roughly the same brain areas (spatially overlapping networks in the left frontotemporal cortex) and happen at the same time (in the first few hundred milliseconds after word onset). We tested the hypothesis that semantic and syntactic unification are segregated by means of neuronal synchronization of the functionally relevant networks in different frequency ranges: gamma (40 Hz and up) for semantic unification and lower beta (10–20 Hz) for syntactic unification. EEG power changes were quantified as participants read either correct sentences, syntactically correct though meaningless sentences (syntactic prose), or sentences that did not contain any syntactic structure (random word lists). Other sentences contained either a semantic anomaly or a syntactic violation at a critical word in the sentence. Larger EEG gamma-band power was observed for semantically coherent than for semantically anomalous sentences. Similarly, beta-band power was larger for syntactically correct sentences than for incorrect ones. These results confirm the existence of a functional dissociation in EEG oscillatory dynamics during sentence level language comprehension that is compatible with the notion of a frequency-based segregation of syntactic and semantic unification.
  • Francken, J. C., Meijs, E. L., Ridderinkhof, O. M., Hagoort, P., de Lange, F. P., & van Gaal, S. (2015). Manipulating word awareness dissociates feed-forward from feedback models of language-perception interactions. Neuroscience of consciousness, 1. doi:10.1093/nc/niv003.

    Abstract

    Previous studies suggest that linguistic material can modulate visual perception, but it is unclear at which level of processing these interactions occur. Here we aim to dissociate between two competing models of language–perception interactions: a feed-forward and a feedback model. We capitalized on the fact that the models make different predictions on the role of feedback. We presented unmasked (aware) or masked (unaware) words implying motion (e.g. “rise,” “fall”), directly preceding an upward or downward visual motion stimulus. Crucially, masking leaves intact feed-forward information processing from low- to high-level regions, whereas it abolishes subsequent feedback. Under this condition, participants remained faster and more accurate when the direction implied by the motion word was congruent with the direction of the visual motion stimulus. This suggests that language–perception interactions are driven by the feed-forward convergence of linguistic and perceptual information at higher-level conceptual and decision stages.
  • Francken, J. C., Meijs, E. L., Hagoort, P., van Gaal, S., & de Lange, F. P. (2015). Exploring the automaticity of language-perception interactions: Effects of attention and awareness. Scientific Reports, 5: 17725. doi:10.1038/srep17725.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that language can modulate visual perception, by biasing and/ or enhancing perceptual performance. However, it is still debated where in the brain visual and linguistic information are integrated, and whether the effects of language on perception are automatic and persist even in the absence of awareness of the linguistic material. Here, we aimed to explore the automaticity of language-perception interactions and the neural loci of these interactions in an fMRI study. Participants engaged in a visual motion discrimination task (upward or downward moving dots). Before each trial, a word prime was briefly presented that implied upward or downward motion (e.g., “rise”, “fall”). These word primes strongly influenced behavior: congruent motion words sped up reaction times and improved performance relative to incongruent motion words. Neural congruency effects were only observed in the left middle temporal gyrus, showing higher activity for congruent compared to incongruent conditions. This suggests that higherlevel conceptual areas rather than sensory areas are the locus of language-perception interactions. When motion words were rendered unaware by means of masking, they still affected visual motion perception, suggesting that language-perception interactions may rely on automatic feed-forward integration of perceptual and semantic material in language areas of the brain.
  • Francken, J. C., Kok, P., Hagoort, P., & De Lange, F. P. (2015). The behavioral and neural effects of language on motion perception. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(1), 175-184. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00682.

    Abstract

    Perception does not function as an isolated module but is tightly linked with other cognitive functions. Several studies have demonstrated an influence of language on motion perception, but it remains debated at which level of processing this modulation takes place. Some studies argue for an interaction in perceptual areas, but it is also possible that the interaction is mediated by "language areas" that integrate linguistic and visual information. Here, we investigated whether language-perception interactions were specific to the language-dominant left hemisphere by comparing the effects of language on visual material presented in the right (RVF) and left visual fields (LVF). Furthermore, we determined the neural locus of the interaction using fMRI. Participants performed a visual motion detection task. On each trial, the visual motion stimulus was presented in either the LVF or in the RVF, preceded by a centrally presented word (e.g., "rise"). The word could be congruent, incongruent, or neutral with regard to the direction of the visual motion stimulus that was presented subsequently. Participants were faster and more accurate when the direction implied by the motion word was congruent with the direction of the visual motion stimulus. Interestingly, the speed benefit was present only for motion stimuli that were presented in the RVF. We observed a neural counterpart of the behavioral facilitation effects in the left middle temporal gyrus, an area involved in semantic processing of verbal material. Together, our results suggest that semantic information about motion retrieved in language regions may automatically modulate perceptual decisions about motion.
  • Franken, M. K., McQueen, J. M., Hagoort, P., & Acheson, D. J. (2015). Assessing the link between speech perception and production through individual differences. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow: the University of Glasgow.

    Abstract

    This study aims to test a prediction of recent theoretical frameworks in speech motor control: if speech production targets are specified in auditory terms, people with better auditory acuity should have more precise speech targets. To investigate this, we had participants perform speech perception and production tasks in a counterbalanced order. To assess speech perception acuity, we used an adaptive speech discrimination task. To assess variability in speech production, participants performed a pseudo-word reading task; formant values were measured for each recording. We predicted that speech production variability to correlate inversely with discrimination performance. The results suggest that people do vary in their production and perceptual abilities, and that better discriminators have more distinctive vowel production targets, confirming our prediction. This study highlights the importance of individual differences in the study of speech motor control, and sheds light on speech production-perception interaction.
  • Franken, M. K., Hagoort, P., & Acheson, D. J. (2015). Modulations of the auditory M100 in an Imitation Task. Brain and Language, 142, 18-23. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2015.01.001.

    Abstract

    Models of speech production explain event-related suppression of the auditory cortical response as reflecting a comparison between auditory predictions and feedback. The present MEG study was designed to test two predictions from this framework: 1) whether the reduced auditory response varies as a function of the mismatch between prediction and feedback; 2) whether individual variation in this response is predictive of speech-motor adaptation. Participants alternated between online imitation and listening tasks. In the imitation task, participants began each trial producing the same vowel (/e/) and subsequently listened to and imitated auditorilypresented vowels varying in acoustic distance from /e/. Results replicated suppression, with a smaller M100 during speaking than listening. Although we did not find unequivocal support for the first prediction, participants with less M100 suppression were better at the imitation task. These results are consistent with the enhancement of M100 serving as an error signal to drive subsequent speech-motor adaptation.
  • Guadalupe, T., Zwiers, M. P., Wittfeld, K., Teumer, A., Vasquez, A. A., Hoogman, M., Hagoort, P., Fernandez, G., Buitelaar, J., van Bokhoven, H., Hegenscheid, K., Völzke, H., Franke, B., Fisher, S. E., Grabe, H. J., & Francks, C. (2015). Asymmetry within and around the human planum temporale is sexually dimorphic and influenced by genes involved in steroid hormone receptor activity. Cortex, 62, 41-55. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2014.07.015.

    Abstract

    The genetic determinants of cerebral asymmetries are unknown. Sex differences in asymmetry of the planum temporale, that overlaps Wernicke’s classical language area, have been inconsistently reported. Meta-analysis of previous studies has suggested that publication bias established this sex difference in the literature. Using probabilistic definitions of cortical regions we screened over the cerebral cortex for sexual dimorphisms of asymmetry in 2337 healthy subjects, and found the planum temporale to show the strongest sex-linked asymmetry of all regions, which was supported by two further datasets, and also by analysis with the Freesurfer package that performs automated parcellation of cerebral cortical regions. We performed a genome-wide association scan meta-analysis of planum temporale asymmetry in a pooled sample of 3095 subjects, followed by a candidate-driven approach which measured a significant enrichment of association in genes of the ´steroid hormone receptor activity´ and 'steroid metabolic process' pathways. Variants in the genes and pathways identified may affect the role of the planum temporale in language cognition.
  • Hagoort, P. (2015). Het talige brein. In A. Aleman, & H. E. Hulshoff Pol (Eds.), Beeldvorming van het brein: Imaging voor psychiaters en psychologen (pp. 169-176). Utrecht: De Tijdstroom.
  • Hagoort, P. (2015). Spiegelneuronen. In J. Brockmann (Ed.), Wetenschappelijk onkruid: 179 hardnekkige ideeën die vooruitgang blokkeren (pp. 455-457). Amsterdam: Maven Publishing.
  • Holler, J., Kokal, I., Toni, I., Hagoort, P., Kelly, S. D., & Ozyurek, A. (2015). Eye’m talking to you: Speakers’ gaze direction modulates co-speech gesture processing in the right MTG. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 10, 255-261. doi:10.1093/scan/nsu047.

    Abstract

    Recipients process information from speech and co-speech gestures, but it is currently unknown how this processing is influenced by the presence of other important social cues, especially gaze direction, a marker of communicative intent. Such cues may modulate neural activity in regions associated either with the processing of ostensive cues, such as eye gaze, or with the processing of semantic information, provided by speech and gesture. Participants were scanned (fMRI) while taking part in triadic communication involving two recipients and a speaker. The speaker uttered sentences that were and were not accompanied by complementary iconic gestures. Crucially, the speaker alternated her gaze direction, thus creating two recipient roles: addressed (direct gaze) vs unaddressed (averted gaze) recipient. The comprehension of Speech&Gesture relative to SpeechOnly utterances recruited middle occipital, middle temporal and inferior frontal gyri, bilaterally. The calcarine sulcus and posterior cingulate cortex were sensitive to differences between direct and averted gaze. Most importantly, Speech&Gesture utterances, but not SpeechOnly utterances, produced additional activity in the right middle temporal gyrus when participants were addressed. Marking communicative intent with gaze direction modulates the processing of speech–gesture utterances in cerebral areas typically associated with the semantic processing of multi-modal communicative acts.
  • Kunert, R., Willems, R. M., Casasanto, D., Patel, A. D., & Hagoort, P. (2015). Music and language syntax interact in Broca’s Area: An fMRI study. PLoS One, 10(11): e0141069. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141069.

    Abstract

    Instrumental music and language are both syntactic systems, employing complex, hierarchically-structured sequences built using implicit structural norms. This organization allows listeners to understand the role of individual words or tones in the context of an unfolding sentence or melody. Previous studies suggest that the brain mechanisms of syntactic processing may be partly shared between music and language. However, functional neuroimaging evidence for anatomical overlap of brain activity involved in linguistic and musical syntactic processing has been lacking. In the present study we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in conjunction with an interference paradigm based on sung sentences. We show that the processing demands of musical syntax (harmony) and language syntax interact in Broca’s area in the left inferior frontal gyrus (without leading to music and language main effects). A language main effect in Broca’s area only emerged in the complex music harmony condition, suggesting that (with our stimuli and tasks) a language effect only becomes visible under conditions of increased demands on shared neural resources. In contrast to previous studies, our design allows us to rule out that the observed neural interaction is due to: (1) general attention mechanisms, as a psychoacoustic auditory anomaly behaved unlike the harmonic manipulation, (2) error processing, as the language and the music stimuli contained no structural errors. The current results thus suggest that two different cognitive domains—music and language—might draw on the same high level syntactic integration resources in Broca’s area.
  • Lai, V. T., Willems, R. M., & Hagoort, P. (2015). Feel between the Lines: Implied emotion from combinatorial semantics. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(8), 1528-1541. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00798.

    Abstract

    This study investigated the brain regions for the comprehension of implied emotion in sentences. Participants read negative sentences without negative words, for example, “The boy fell asleep and never woke up again,” and their neutral counterparts “The boy stood up and grabbed his bag.” This kind of negative sentence allows us to examine implied emotion derived at the sentence level, without associative emotion coming from word retrieval. We found that implied emotion in sentences, relative to neutral sentences, led to activation in some emotion-related areas, including the medial prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the insula, as well as certain language-related areas, including the inferior frontal gyrus, which has been implicated in combinatorial processing. These results suggest that the emotional network involved in implied emotion is intricately related to the network for combinatorial processing in language, supporting the view that sentence meaning is more than simply concatenating the meanings of its lexical building blocks.
  • Peeters, D., Chu, M., Holler, J., Hagoort, P., & Ozyurek, A. (2015). Electrophysiological and kinematic correlates of communicative intent in the planning and production of pointing gestures and speech. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(12), 2352-2368. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00865.

    Abstract

    In everyday human communication, we often express our communicative intentions by manually pointing out referents in the material world around us to an addressee, often in tight synchronization with referential speech. This study investigated whether and how the kinematic form of index finger pointing gestures is shaped by the gesturer's communicative intentions and how this is modulated by the presence of concurrently produced speech. Furthermore, we explored the neural mechanisms underpinning the planning of communicative pointing gestures and speech. Two experiments were carried out in which participants pointed at referents for an addressee while the informativeness of their gestures and speech was varied. Kinematic and electrophysiological data were recorded online. It was found that participants prolonged the duration of the stroke and poststroke hold phase of their gesture to be more communicative, in particular when the gesture was carrying the main informational burden in their multimodal utterance. Frontal and P300 effects in the ERPs suggested the importance of intentional and modality-independent attentional mechanisms during the planning phase of informative pointing gestures. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the complex interplay between action, attention, intention, and language in the production of pointing gestures, a communicative act core to human interaction.
  • Peeters, D., Hagoort, P., & Ozyurek, A. (2015). Electrophysiological evidence for the role of shared space in online comprehension of spatial demonstratives. Cognition, 136, 64-84. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.10.010.

    Abstract

    A fundamental property of language is that it can be used to refer to entities in the extra-linguistic physical context of a conversation in order to establish a joint focus of attention on a referent. Typological and psycholinguistic work across a wide range of languages has put forward at least two different theoretical views on demonstrative reference. Here we contrasted and tested these two accounts by investigating the electrophysiological brain activity underlying the construction of indexical meaning in comprehension. In two EEG experiments, participants watched pictures of a speaker who referred to one of two objects using speech and an index-finger pointing gesture. In contrast with separately collected native speakers’ linguistic intuitions, N400 effects showed a preference for a proximal demonstrative when speaker and addressee were in a face-to-face orientation and all possible referents were located in the shared space between them, irrespective of the physical proximity of the referent to the speaker. These findings reject egocentric proximity-based accounts of demonstrative reference, support a sociocentric approach to deixis, suggest that interlocutors construe a shared space during conversation, and imply that the psychological proximity of a referent may be more important than its physical proximity.
  • Peeters, D., Snijders, T. M., Hagoort, P., & Ozyurek, A. (2015). The role of left inferior frontal Gyrus in the integration of point- ing gestures and speech. In G. Ferré, & M. Tutton (Eds.), Proceedings of the4th GESPIN - Gesture & Speech in Interaction Conference. Nantes: Université de Nantes.

    Abstract

    Comprehension of pointing gestures is fundamental to human communication. However, the neural mechanisms that subserve the integration of pointing gestures and speech in visual contexts in comprehension are unclear. Here we present the results of an fMRI study in which participants watched images of an actor pointing at an object while they listened to her referential speech. The use of a mismatch paradigm revealed that the semantic unication of pointing gesture and speech in a triadic context recruits left inferior frontal gyrus. Complementing previous ndings, this suggests that left inferior frontal gyrus semantically integrates information across modalities and semiotic domains.
  • Samur, D., Lai, V. T., Hagoort, P., & Willems, R. M. (2015). Emotional context modulates embodied metaphor comprehension. Neuropsychologia, 78, 108-114. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.10.003.

    Abstract

    Emotions are often expressed metaphorically, and both emotion and metaphor are ways through which abstract meaning can be grounded in language. Here we investigate specifically whether motion-related verbs when used metaphorically are differentially sensitive to a preceding emotional context, as compared to when they are used in a literal manner. Participants read stories that ended with ambiguous action/motion sentences (e.g., he got it), in which the action/motion could be interpreted metaphorically (he understood the idea) or literally (he caught the ball) depending on the preceding story. Orthogonal to the metaphorical manipulation, the stories were high or low in emotional content. The results showed that emotional context modulated the neural response in visual motion areas to the metaphorical interpretation of the sentences, but not to their literal interpretations. In addition, literal interpretations of the target sentences led to stronger activation in the visual motion areas as compared to metaphorical readings of the sentences. We interpret our results as suggesting that emotional context specifically modulates mental simulation during metaphor processing
  • Simanova, I., Van Gerven, M. A., Oostenveld, R., & Hagoort, P. (2015). Predicting the semantic category of internally generated words from neuromagnetic recordings. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(1), 35-45. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00690.

    Abstract

    In this study, we explore the possibility to predict the semantic category of words from brain signals in a free word generation task. Participants produced single words from different semantic categories in a modified semantic fluency task. A Bayesian logistic regression classifier was trained to predict the semantic category of words from single-trial MEG data. Significant classification accuracies were achieved using sensor-level MEG time series at the time interval of conceptual preparation. Semantic category prediction was also possible using source-reconstructed time series, based on minimum norm estimates of cortical activity. Brain regions that contributed most to classification on the source level were identified. These were the left inferior frontal gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and left posterior middle temporal gyrus. Additionally, the temporal dynamics of brain activity underlying the semantic preparation during word generation was explored. These results provide important insights about central aspects of language production
  • Xiang, H., Van Leeuwen, T. M., Dediu, D., Roberts, L., Norris, D. G., & Hagoort, P. (2015). L2-proficiency-dependent laterality shift in structural connectivity of brain language pathways. Brain Connectivity, 5(6), 349-361. doi:10.1089/brain.2013.0199.

    Abstract

    Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and a longitudinal language learning approach were applied to investigate the relationship between the achieved second language (L2) proficiency during L2 learning and the reorganization of structural connectivity between core language areas. Language proficiency tests and DTI scans were obtained from German students before and after they completed an intensive 6-week course of the Dutch language. In the initial learning stage, with increasing L2 proficiency, the hemispheric dominance of the BA6-temporal pathway (mainly along the arcuate fasciculus) shifted from the left to the right hemisphere. With further increased proficiency, however, lateralization dominance was again found in the left BA6-temporal pathway. This result is consistent with reports in the literature that imply a stronger involvement of the right hemisphere in L2-processing especially for less proficient L2-speakers. This is the first time that a L2-proficiency-dependent laterality shift in structural connectivity of language pathways during L2 acquisition has been observed to shift from left to right, and back to left hemisphere dominance with increasing L2-proficiency. We additionally find that changes in fractional anisotropy values after the course are related to the time elapsed between the two scans. The results suggest that structural connectivity in (at least part of) the perisylvian language network may be subject to fast dynamic changes following language learning
  • Acheson, D. J., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Twisting tongues to test for conflict monitoring in speech production. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 206. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00206.

    Abstract

    A number of recent studies have hypothesized that monitoring in speech production may occur via domain-general mechanisms responsible for the detection of response conflict. Outside of language, two ERP components have consistently been elicited in conflict-inducing tasks (e.g., the flanker task): the stimulus-locked N2 on correct trials, and the response-locked error-related negativity (ERN). The present investigation used these electrophysiological markers to test whether a common response conflict monitor is responsible for monitoring in speech and non-speech tasks. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded while participants performed a tongue twister (TT) task and a manual version of the flanker task. In the TT task, people rapidly read sequences of four nonwords arranged in TT and non-TT patterns three times. In the flanker task, people responded with a left/right button press to a center-facing arrow, and conflict was manipulated by the congruency of the flanking arrows. Behavioral results showed typical effects of both tasks, with increased error rates and slower speech onset times for TT relative to non-TT trials and for incongruent relative to congruent flanker trials. In the flanker task, stimulus-locked EEG analyses replicated previous results, with a larger N2 for incongruent relative to congruent trials, and a response-locked ERN. In the TT task, stimulus-locked analyses revealed broad, frontally-distributed differences beginning around 50 ms and lasting until just before speech initiation, with TT trials more negative than non-TT trials; response-locked analyses revealed an ERN. Correlation across these measures showed some correlations within a task, but little evidence of systematic cross-task correlation. Although the present results do not speak against conflict signals from the production system serving as cues to self-monitoring, they are not consistent with signatures of response conflict being mediated by a single, domain-general conflict monitor
  • Basnakova, J., Weber, K., Petersson, K. M., Van Berkum, J. J. A., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Beyond the language given: The neural correlates of inferring speaker meaning. Cerebral Cortex, 24(10), 2572-2578. doi:10.1093/cercor/bht112.

    Abstract

    Even though language allows us to say exactly what we mean, we often use language to say things indirectly, in a way that depends on the specific communicative context. For example, we can use an apparently straightforward sentence like "It is hard to give a good presentation" to convey deeper meanings, like "Your talk was a mess!" One of the big puzzles in language science is how listeners work out what speakers really mean, which is a skill absolutely central to communication. However, most neuroimaging studies of language comprehension have focused on the arguably much simpler, context-independent process of understanding direct utterances. To examine the neural systems involved in getting at contextually constrained indirect meaning, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging as people listened to indirect replies in spoken dialog. Relative to direct control utterances, indirect replies engaged dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, right temporo-parietal junction and insula, as well as bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and right medial temporal gyrus. This suggests that listeners take the speaker's perspective on both cognitive (theory of mind) and affective (empathy-like) levels. In line with classic pragmatic theories, our results also indicate that currently popular "simulationist" accounts of language comprehension fail to explain how listeners understand the speaker's intended message.
  • Cai, D., Fonteijn, H. M., Guadalupe, T., Zwiers, M., Wittfeld, K., Teumer, A., Hoogman, M., Arias Vásquez, A., Yang, Y., Buitelaar, J., Fernández, G., Brunner, H. G., Van Bokhoven, H., Franke, B., Hegenscheid, K., Homuth, G., Fisher, S. E., Grabe, H. J., Francks, C., & Hagoort, P. (2014). A genome wide search for quantitative trait loci affecting the cortical surface area and thickness of Heschl's gyrus. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 13, 675-685. doi:10.1111/gbb.12157.

    Abstract

    Heschl's gyrus (HG) is a core region of the auditory cortex whose morphology is highly variable across individuals. This variability has been linked to sound perception ability in both speech and music domains. Previous studies show that variations in morphological features of HG, such as cortical surface area and thickness, are heritable. To identify genetic variants that affect HG morphology, we conducted a genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis in 3054 healthy individuals using HG surface area and thickness as quantitative traits. None of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed association P values that would survive correction for multiple testing over the genome. The most significant association was found between right HG area and SNP rs72932726 close to gene DCBLD2 (3q12.1; P=2.77x10(-7)). This SNP was also associated with other regions involved in speech processing. The SNP rs333332 within gene KALRN (3q21.2; P=2.27x10(-6)) and rs143000161 near gene COBLL1 (2q24.3; P=2.40x10(-6)) were associated with the area and thickness of left HG, respectively. Both genes are involved in the development of the nervous system. The SNP rs7062395 close to the X-linked deafness gene POU3F4 was associated with right HG thickness (Xq21.1; P=2.38x10(-6)). This is the first molecular genetic analysis of variability in HG morphology
  • Chu, M., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Synchronization of speech and gesture: Evidence for interaction in action. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(4), 1726-1741. doi:10.1037/a0036281.

    Abstract

    Language and action systems are highly interlinked. A critical piece of evidence is that speech and its accompanying gestures are tightly synchronized. Five experiments were conducted to test 2 hypotheses about the synchronization of speech and gesture. According to the interactive view, there is continuous information exchange between the gesture and speech systems, during both their planning and execution phases. According to the ballistic view, information exchange occurs only during the planning phases of gesture and speech, but the 2 systems become independent once their execution has been initiated. In all experiments, participants were required to point to and/or name a light that had just lit up. Virtual reality and motion tracking technologies were used to disrupt their gesture or speech execution. Participants delayed their speech onset when their gesture was disrupted. They did so even when their gesture was disrupted at its late phase and even when they received only the kinesthetic feedback of their gesture. Also, participants prolonged their gestures when their speech was disrupted. These findings support the interactive view and add new constraints on models of speech and gesture production
  • Cristia, A., Seidl, A., Junge, C., Soderstrom, M., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Predicting individual variation in language from infant speech perception measures. Child development, 85(4), 1330-1345. doi:10.1111/cdev.12193.

    Abstract

    There are increasing reports that individual variation in behavioral and neurophysiological measures of infant speech processing predicts later language outcomes, and specifically concurrent or subsequent vocabulary size. If such findings are held up under scrutiny, they could both illuminate theoretical models of language development and contribute to the prediction of communicative disorders. A qualitative, systematic review of this emergent literature illustrated the variety of approaches that have been used and highlighted some conceptual problems regarding the measurements. A quantitative analysis of the same data established that the bivariate relation was significant, with correlations of similar strength to those found for well-established nonlinguistic predictors of language. Further exploration of infant speech perception predictors, particularly from a methodological perspective, is recommended.
  • Dolscheid, S., Willems, R. M., Hagoort, P., & Casasanto, D. (2014). The relation of space and musical pitch in the brain. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (Eds.), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2014) (pp. 421-426). Austin, Tx: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Numerous experiments show that space and musical pitch are closely linked in people's minds. However, the exact nature of space-pitch associations and their neuronal underpinnings are not well understood. In an fMRI experiment we investigated different types of spatial representations that may underlie musical pitch. Participants judged stimuli that varied in spatial height in both the visual and tactile modalities, as well as auditory stimuli that varied in pitch height. In order to distinguish between unimodal and multimodal spatial bases of musical pitch, we examined whether pitch activations were present in modality-specific (visual or tactile) versus multimodal (visual and tactile) regions active during spatial height processing. Judgments of musical pitch were found to activate unimodal visual areas, suggesting that space-pitch associations may involve modality-specific spatial representations, supporting a key assumption of embodied theories of metaphorical mental representation.
  • Guadalupe, T., Zwiers, M. P., Teumer, A., Wittfeld, K., Arias Vasquez, A., Hoogman, M., Hagoort, P., Fernández, G., Buitelaar, J., Hegenscheid, K., Völzke, H., Franke, B., Fisher, S. E., Grabe, H. J., & Francks, C. (2014). Measurement and genetics of human subcortical and hippocampal asymmetries in large datasets. Human Brain Mapping, 35(7), 3277-3289. doi:10.1002/hbm.22401.

    Abstract

    Functional and anatomical asymmetries are prevalent features of the human brain, linked to gender, handedness, and cognition. However, little is known about the neurodevelopmental processes involved. In zebrafish, asymmetries arise in the diencephalon before extending within the central nervous system. We aimed to identify genes involved in the development of subtle, left-right volumetric asymmetries of human subcortical structures using large datasets. We first tested the feasibility of measuring left-right volume differences in such large-scale samples, as assessed by two automated methods of subcortical segmentation (FSL|FIRST and FreeSurfer), using data from 235 subjects who had undergone MRI twice. We tested the agreement between the first and second scan, and the agreement between the segmentation methods, for measures of bilateral volumes of six subcortical structures and the hippocampus, and their volumetric asymmetries. We also tested whether there were biases introduced by left-right differences in the regional atlases used by the methods, by analyzing left-right flipped images. While many bilateral volumes were measured well (scan-rescan r = 0.6-0.8), most asymmetries, with the exception of the caudate nucleus, showed lower repeatabilites. We meta-analyzed genome-wide association scan results for caudate nucleus asymmetry in a combined sample of 3,028 adult subjects but did not detect associations at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10-8). There was no enrichment of genetic association in genes involved in left-right patterning of the viscera. Our results provide important information for researchers who are currently aiming to carry out large-scale genome-wide studies of subcortical and hippocampal volumes, and their asymmetries
  • Guadalupe, T., Willems, R. M., Zwiers, M., Arias Vasquez, A., Hoogman, M., Hagoort, P., Fernández, G., Buitelaar, J., Franke, B., Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2014). Differences in cerebral cortical anatomy of left- and right-handers. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 261. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00261.

    Abstract

    The left and right sides of the human brain are specialized for different kinds of information processing, and much of our cognition is lateralized to an extent towards one side or the other. Handedness is a reflection of nervous system lateralization. Roughly ten percent of people are mixed- or left-handed, and they show an elevated rate of reductions or reversals of some cerebral functional asymmetries compared to right-handers. Brain anatomical correlates of left-handedness have also been suggested. However, the relationships of left-handedness to brain structure and function remain far from clear. We carried out a comprehensive analysis of cortical surface area differences between 106 left-handed subjects and 1960 right-handed subjects, measured using an automated method of regional parcellation (FreeSurfer, Destrieux atlas). This is the largest study sample that has so far been used in relation to this issue. No individual cortical region showed an association with left-handedness that survived statistical correction for multiple testing, although there was a nominally significant association with the surface area of a previously implicated region: the left precentral sulcus. Identifying brain structural correlates of handedness may prove useful for genetic studies of cerebral asymmetries, as well as providing new avenues for the study of relations between handedness, cerebral lateralization and cognition.
  • Hagoort, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Neuropragmatics. In M. S. Gazzaniga, & G. R. Mangun (Eds.), The cognitive neurosciences (5th ed., pp. 667-674). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

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