The interaction of context constraints and predictive validity during sentence reading
Words are not processed in isolation; instead, they are commonly embedded in phrases and sentences. The sentential context influences the perception and processing of a word. However, how this is achieved by brain processes and whether predictive mechanisms underlie this process remain a debated topic. Here, we employed an experimental paradigm in which we orthogonalized sentence context constraints and predictive validity, which was defined as the ratio of congruent to incongruent sentence endings within the experiment. While recording electroencephalography, participants read sentences with three levels of sentential context constraints (high, medium, and low). Participants were also separated into two groups that differed in their ratio of valid congruent to incongruent target words that could be predicted from the sentential context. For both groups, we investigated modulations of alpha power before, and N400 amplitude modulations after target word onset. The results reveal that the N400 amplitude gradually decreased with higher context constraints and cloze probability. In contrast, alpha power was not significantly affected by context constraint. Neither the N400 nor alpha power were significantly affected by changes in predictive validity.
Publication typeJournal article