Brain activitity during speaking: From syntax to phonology in 40 milliseconds
Van Turennout, M., Hagoort, P., & Brown, C. M.
Brain activitity during speaking: From syntax to phonology in 40 milliseconds. Science, 280
In normal conversation, speakers translate thoughts into words at high speed. To enable
this speed, the retrieval of distinct types of linguistic knowledge has to be orchestrated
with millisecond precision. The nature of this orchestration is still largely unknown. This report presents dynamic measures of the real-time activation of two basic types of
linguistic knowledge, syntax and phonology. Electrophysiological data demonstrate that
during noun-phrase production speakers retrieve the syntactic gender of a noun before
its abstract phonological properties. This two-step process operates at high speed: the
data show that phonological information is already available 40 milliseconds after syntactic properties have been retrieved.