Publication

The sentence wrap-up dogma

Stowe, L. A., Kaan, E., Sabourin, L. & Taylor, R. C., Jul-2018, In : Cognition. 176, p. 232-247 16 p.

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DOI

  • Laurie A. Stowe
  • Edith Kaan
  • Laura Sabourin
  • Ryan C. Taylor

Current sentence processing research has focused on early effects of the on-line incremental processes that are performed at each word or constituent during processing. However, less attention has been devoted to what happens at the end of the clause or sentence. More specifically, over the last decade and a half, a lot of effort has been put into avoiding measuring event-related brain potentials (ERPs) at the final word of a sentence, because of the possible effects of sentence wrap-up. This article reviews the evidence on how and when sentence wrap-up impacts behavioral and ERP results. Even though the end of the sentence is associated with a positive-going ERP wave, thus far this effect has not been associated with any factors hypothesized to affect wrap-up. In addition, ERP responses to violations have not been affected by this positivity. "Sentence-final" negativities reported in the literature are not unique to sentence final positions, nor do they obscure or distort ERP effects associated with linguistic manipulations. Finally, the empirical evidence used to argue that sentence-final ERPs are different from those recorded at sentence-medial positions is weak at most. Measuring ERPs at sentence-final positions is therefore certainly not to be avoided at all costs, especially not in cases where the structure of the language under investigation requires it. More importantly, researchers should follow rigorous method in their experimental design, avoid decision tasks which may induce ERP confounds, and ensure all other possible explanations for results are considered. Although this article is directed at a particular dogma from a particular literature, this review shows that it is important to reassess what is regarded as "general knowledge" from time to time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-247
Number of pages16
JournalCognition
Volume176
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2018

    Keywords

  • Sentence wrap-up, Sentence processing, ERP, Closure, EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS, REVEAL INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, BRAIN POTENTIALS, EYE-MOVEMENTS, LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION, SEMANTIC INTEGRATION, TIME-COURSE, PHRASE STRUCTURE, WORKING-MEMORY, POSITIVE SHIFT

ID: 66411433