Alpha and theta band dynamics related to sentential constraint and word
Rommers, J., Dickson, D. S., Norton, J. J. S., Wlotko, E. W., & Federmeier, K. D.
Alpha and theta band dynamics related to sentential constraint and word expectancy. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32
(5), 576-589. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1183799.
Despite strong evidence for prediction during language comprehension, the underlying
mechanisms, and the extent to which they are specific to language, remain unclear. Re-analysing
an event-related potentials study, we examined responses in the time-frequency domain to
expected and unexpected (but plausible) words in strongly and weakly constraining sentences,
and found results similar to those reported in nonverbal domains. Relative to expected words,
unexpected words elicited an increase in the theta band (4–7 Hz) in strongly constraining
contexts, suggesting the involvement of control processes to deal with the consequences of
having a prediction disconfirmed. Prior to critical word onset, strongly constraining sentences
exhibited a decrease in the alpha band (8–12 Hz) relative to weakly constraining sentences,
suggesting that comprehenders can take advantage of predictive sentence contexts to prepare
for the input. The results suggest that the brain recruits domain-general preparation and control
mechanisms when making and assessing predictions during sentence comprehension