Neural signatures of response planning occur midway through an incoming question in conversation
Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C.
Neural signatures of response planning occur midway through an incoming question in conversation. Scientific Reports, 5
: 12881. doi:10.1038/srep12881.
A striking puzzle about language use in everyday conversation is that turn-taking latencies are usually very short, whereas planning language production takes much longer. This implies overlap between language comprehension and production processes, but the nature and extent of such overlap has never been studied directly. Combining an interactive quiz paradigm with EEG measurements in an innovative way, we show that production planning processes start as soon as possible, that is, within half a second after the answer to a question can be retrieved (up to several seconds before the end of the question). Localization of ERP data shows early activation even of brain areas related to late stages of production planning (e.g., syllabification). Finally, oscillation results suggest an attention switch from comprehension to production around the same time frame. This perspective from interactive language use throws new light on the performance characteristics that language competence involves.