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      Effects of Grammaticality and Morphological Complexity on the P600 Event-Related Potential Component

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          Abstract

          We investigated interactions between morphological complexity and grammaticality on electrophysiological markers of grammatical processing during reading. Our goal was to determine whether morphological complexity and stimulus grammaticality have independent or additive effects on the P600 event-related potential component. Participants read sentences that were either well-formed or grammatically ill-formed, in which the critical word was either morphologically simple or complex. Results revealed no effects of complexity for well-formed stimuli, but the P600 amplitude was significantly larger for morphologically complex ungrammatical stimuli than for morphologically simple ungrammatical stimuli. These findings suggest that some previous work may have inadequately characterized factors related to reanalysis during morphosyntactic processing. Our results show that morphological complexity by itself does not elicit P600 effects. However, in ungrammatical circumstances, overt morphology provides a more robust and reliable cue to morphosyntactic relationships than null affixation.

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          Most cited references 53

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            Thirty years and counting: finding meaning in the N400 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP).

            We review the discovery, characterization, and evolving use of the N400, an event-related brain potential response linked to meaning processing. We describe the elicitation of N400s by an impressive range of stimulus types--including written, spoken, and signed words or pseudowords; drawings, photos, and videos of faces, objects, and actions; sounds; and mathematical symbols--and outline the sensitivity of N400 amplitude (as its latency is remarkably constant) to linguistic and nonlinguistic manipulations. We emphasize the effectiveness of the N400 as a dependent variable for examining almost every aspect of language processing and highlight its expanding use to probe semantic memory and to determine how the neurocognitive system dynamically and flexibly uses bottom-up and top-down information to make sense of the world. We conclude with different theories of the N400's functional significance and offer an N400-inspired reconceptualization of how meaning processing might unfold.
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              Expectation-based syntactic comprehension.

               Roger Levy (2008)
              This paper investigates the role of resource allocation as a source of processing difficulty in human sentence comprehension. The paper proposes a simple information-theoretic characterization of processing difficulty as the work incurred by resource reallocation during parallel, incremental, probabilistic disambiguation in sentence comprehension, and demonstrates its equivalence to the theory of Hale [Hale, J. (2001). A probabilistic Earley parser as a psycholinguistic model. In Proceedings of NAACL (Vol. 2, pp. 159-166)], in which the difficulty of a word is proportional to its surprisal (its negative log-probability) in the context within which it appears. This proposal subsumes and clarifies findings that high-constraint contexts can facilitate lexical processing, and connects these findings to well-known models of parallel constraint-based comprehension. In addition, the theory leads to a number of specific predictions about the role of expectation in syntactic comprehension, including the reversal of locality-based difficulty patterns in syntactically constrained contexts, and conditions under which increased ambiguity facilitates processing. The paper examines a range of established results bearing on these predictions, and shows that they are largely consistent with the surprisal theory.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [1 ]Program in Neuroscience, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America
                [2 ]Department of Linguistics, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, United States of America
                [3 ]Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America
                The National Institutes of Health, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: ASM DT GDV. Performed the experiments: ASM EKW. Analyzed the data: ASM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: LO. Wrote the paper: ASM DT LO.

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                21 October 2015
                2015
                : 10
                : 10
                26488893 4619296 10.1371/journal.pone.0140850 PONE-D-15-19031

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Pages: 16
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                Funding
                The authors received no funding specifically designated for this work. Portions of this research were conducted while ASM was supported by National Institutes of Health ( http://www.nih.gov/) grant F31 DC013700 and National Institutes of Health grant T32 DC005361, while DT was supported by National Science Foundation ( http://www.nsf.gov/) grant BCS-1349110 and National Science Foundation grant BCS-1431324, and while LO was supported by National Science Foundation grant BCS-1261501. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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