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Modulation of semantic integration as a function of syntactic expectations: event-related brain potential evidence

Isel, Frédéric; Shen, Weilin

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283437f21
BEHAVIORAL, INTEGRATIVE AND CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE
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This study investigated syntax–semantics interactions during spoken sentence comprehension. We showed that expectations of phrase-structure incongruencies, which were induced by the experimental instructions, although not actually present in the sentences, were able to block the process of semantic integration. Although this process is usually associated with an N400 event-related brain potential component, here we found a P600, that is, an event-related brain potential component that is thought to reflect syntactic revision. This finding lends support to neurophysiological models of sentence interpretation, which postulates that the lexical–semantic integration of a given word can take place only when syntactic analysis has been successfully completed.

Laboratory of Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology, Paris Descartes University, France

Correspondence to Frédéric Isel, PhD, Laboratory of Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France Tel: +33 1 5520 5924; fax: +33 1 5520 5745; e-mail: frederic.isel@parisdescartes.fr

Received October 18, 2010

Accepted December 7, 2010

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.