Brilmayer, Ingmar, Sassenhagen, Jona, Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina and Schlesewsky, Matthias (2017). Domain-general neural correlates of dependency formation: Using complex tones to simulate language. cortex, 93. pp. 50-67. Elsevier.

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There is an ongoing debate whether the P600 event-related potential component following syntactic anomalies reflects syntactic processes per se, or if it is an instance of the P300, a domain-general ERP component associated with attention and cognitive reorientation. A direct comparison of both components is challenging because of the huge discrepancy in experimental designs and stimulus choice between language and ‘classic’ P300 experi- ments. In the present study, we develop a new approach to mimic the interplay of sequential position as well as categorical and relational information in natural language syntax (word category and agreement) in a non-linguistic target detection paradigm using musical instruments. Participants were instructed to (covertly) detect target tones which were defined by instrument change and pitch rise between subsequent tones at the last two positions of four-tone sequences. We analysed the EEG using event-related averaging and time-frequency decomposition. Our results show striking similarities to results ob- tained from linguistic experiments. We found a P300 that showed sensitivity to sequential position and a late positivity sensitive to stimulus type and position. A time-frequency decomposition revealed significant effects of sequential position on the theta band and a significant influence of stimulus type on the delta band. Our results suggest that the detection of non-linguistic targets defined via complex feature conjunctions in the present study and the detection of syntactic anomalies share the same underlying processes: attentional shift and memory based matching processes that act upon multi-feature conjunctions. We discuss the results as supporting domain-general accounts of the P600 during natural language comprehension.

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Brilmayer, Ingmaringmar.brilmayer@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-463221
DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.05.003
Journal or Publication Title: cortex
Volume: 93
Page Range: pp. 50-67
Date: 2017
Publisher: Elsevier
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 3: Deutsche Sprache und Literatur > Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur I
Subjects: Psychology
Language, Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Neural oscillationsUNSPECIFIED
Event-related potentialsUNSPECIFIED
Artificial grammarUNSPECIFIED
Refereed: Yes


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