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Getting real about Semantic Illusions: Rethinking the functional role of the P600 in language comprehension

Brouwer, H., Fitz, H. & Hoeks, J., 29-Mar-2012, In : Brain Research. 1446, p. 127-143 17 p.

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  • Getting real about Semantic Illusions

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DOI

In traditional theories of language comprehension, syntactic and semantic processing are inextricably linked. This assumption has been challenged by the 'Semantic: Illusion Effect' found in studies using Event Related brain Potentials. Semantically anomalous sentences did not produce the expected increase in N400 amplitude but rather one in F'600 amplitude. To explain these findings, complex models have been devised in which an independent semantic processing stream can arrive at a sentence interpretation that may differ from the interpretation prescribed by the syntactic structure of the. sentence. We review five such multi-stream models and argue that they do not account for the full range of relevant results because they assume that the amplitude of the N400 indexes some form of semantic integration. Based on recent evidence we argue that N400 amplitude might reflect the retrieval of lexical information from memory. On this view, the absence of an N400-effect in Semantic Illusion sentences can be explained in terms cif priming. Furthermore, we suggest that semantic integration, which has previously been linked to the N400 component, might be reflected in the P600 instead. When combined, these functional interpretations result in a single-stream account of language processing that can explain all of the Semantic Illusion data. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-143
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Research
Volume1446
Publication statusPublished - 29-Mar-2012

    Keywords

  • Sentence comprehension, Semantic Illusion, N400, Memory retrieval, Semantic P600, EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS, SYNTACTIC POSITIVE SHIFT, BRAIN POTENTIALS, SENTENCE COMPREHENSION, NEURAL MECHANISMS, SITUATION MODELS, ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL EVIDENCE, DISCOURSE COMPREHENSION, THEMATIC RELATIONSHIPS, ANOMALY DETECTION

ID: 2165265