An event-related potential study on changes of
violation and error responses during morphosyntactic learning
Davidson, D. J., & Indefrey, P.
An event-related potential study on changes of violation and error responses during morphosyntactic learning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21
(3), 433-446. Retrieved from http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/jocn.2008.21031.
Based on recent findings showing electrophysiological
changes in adult language learners after relatively short periods
of training, we hypothesized that adult Dutch learners of
German would show responses to German gender and adjective
declension violations after brief instruction. Adjective
declension in German differs from previously studied morphosyntactic
regularities in that the required suffixes depend
not only on the syntactic case, gender, and number features to
be expressed, but also on whether or not these features are
already expressed on linearly preceding elements in the noun
phrase. Violation phrases and matched controls were presented
over three test phases (pretest and training on the first
day, and a posttest one week later). During the pretest, no
electrophysiological differences were observed between violation
and control conditions, and participants’ classification performance
was near chance. During the training and posttest
phases, classification improved, and there was a P600-like violation
response to declension but not gender violations. An
error-related response during training was associated with improvement
in grammatical discrimination from pretest to posttest.
The results show that rapid changes in neuronal responses
can be observed in adult learners of a complex morphosyntactic
rule, and also that error-related electrophysiological responses
may relate to grammar acquisition.