Abstract

Hahne, A., Schröger, E., & Friederici, A. D. (2002). Segregating early physical and syntactic processes in auditory sentence comprehension. Neuroreport, 13(3), 305-309.

Segregating early physical and syntactic processes in auditory sentence comprehension

Auditory language comprehension involves physical as well as syntactic processing. The present study examined whether early physical and syntactic processes in spoken sentence comprehension can be segregated using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). In the physical manipulation condition, the terminal word of the sentence was presented either from the same or from a different location to the preceding sentence fragment. In the syntactic manipulation condition, the terminal word was either a syntactically correct continuation of the preceding sentence fragment or violated syntactic constraints. These two factors were completely crossed. Physical deviances elicited the mismatch negativity (MMN) and syntactic deviances the early syntax-related negativity, both deviance-related components of the ERP. Sentences which violated physical as well as syntactic constraints elicited a negativity which was larger than that elicited by only a physical or only a syntactic deviance. The elicitation of the MMN in connected speech demonstrates that this component can be used as a probe for auditory change-detection even in ecologically highly valid situations. The increase of deviance-related effects with double deviants suggests that the early physical and syntactic processing systems act, to a high degree, in parallel and independently of each other.



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