Document Detail

Predictive mechanisms in idiom comprehension.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19580384     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Prediction is pervasive in human cognition and plays a central role in language comprehension. At an electrophysiological level, this cognitive function contributes substantially in determining the amplitude of the N400. In fact, the amplitude of the N400 to words within a sentence has been shown to depend on how predictable those words are: The more predictable a word, the smaller the N400 elicited. However, predictive processing can be based on different sources of information that allow anticipation of upcoming constituents and integration in context. In this study, we investigated the ERPs elicited during the comprehension of idioms, that is, prefabricated multiword strings stored in semantic memory. When a reader recognizes a string of words as an idiom before the idiom ends, she or he can develop expectations concerning the incoming idiomatic constituents. We hypothesized that the expectations driven by the activation of an idiom might differ from those driven by discourse-based constraints. To this aim, we compared the ERP waveforms elicited by idioms and two literal control conditions. The results showed that, in both cases, the literal conditions exhibited a more negative potential than the idiomatic condition. Our analyses suggest that before idiom recognition the effect is due to modulation of the N400 amplitude, whereas after idiom recognition a P300 for the idiomatic sentence has a fundamental role in the composition of the effect. These results suggest that two distinct predictive mechanisms are at work during language comprehension, based respectively on probabilistic information and on categorical template matching.
Francesco Vespignani; Paolo Canal; Nicola Molinaro; Sergio Fonda; Cristina Cacciari
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of cognitive neuroscience     Volume:  22     ISSN:  1530-8898     ISO Abbreviation:  J Cogn Neurosci     Publication Date:  2010 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-04-30     Completed Date:  2010-08-11     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8910747     Medline TA:  J Cogn Neurosci     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1682-700     Citation Subset:  IM    
Dipartimento di Scienze della Cognizione e della Formazione, Università degli Studi di Trento, Rovereto, Italy.
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MeSH Terms
Analysis of Variance
Brain Mapping
Comprehension / physiology*
Electroencephalography / methods
Evoked Potentials / physiology
Neuropsychological Tests
Predictive Value of Tests
Principal Component Analysis
Reaction Time / physiology
Recognition (Psychology) / physiology*
Time Factors
Young Adult

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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