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Lexical specificity, imageability and emotional arousal modulate the N400 and the N700
Lund University.
Lund University.
Lund University.
Lund University.
2016 (English)In: 8th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. SNL 2016: Abstracts, 2016, p. 207-207Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction: The event-related potential (ERP) componentN400 as well as a later effect, often labeled ‘N700’ haverepeatedly been shown to increase for concrete as compared to abstract words (Barber, Otten, Kousta, & Vigliocco, 2013; Gullick, Mitra, & Coch, 2013; Kounios & Holcomb, 1994; Nittono, Suehiro, & Hori, 2002; West & Holcomb, 2000). In addition, pseudowords elicit greater N400s than real words (Lau, Phillips, & Poeppel, 2008). Previous interpretations of the N400 as indexing contextual integration or alternatively, activation of semantic features in long-term memory, do notfully explain the combination of these differences. The present study compared ERPs in the N400 and N700 time-windows for PSEUDOWORDS (e.g. ‘danalod’) and four noun categories differing in specificity and imageability: (SPECIFIC, e.g. ‘squirrel’, GENERAL, e.g. ‘animal’, EMOTIONAL, e.g. ‘happiness’ and ABSTRACT, e.g. ‘tendency’).

Methods: EEGwas recorded from 32 scalp electrodes and response times were measured while 35 healthy, right-handed native Swedish speakers (age 20-37) performed an imageability rating (IR) task and a lexical decision (LD) task. The stimuli were 160 written nouns, 40 each of the above-mentioned semantic categories, and 160 phonologically legal pseudowords. Statistical comparisons of ERPs in the N400 (300-500 ms post-stimulus onset) and N700 (500-800 ms post-stimulus onset) time-windows were carried out using within-subjects ANOVAs.

Results: In the LD task, N400 amplitudes increasedin the order EMOTIONAL < ABSTRACT < GENERAL < SPECIFIC < PSEUDOWORD. A largely similar pattern wasfound in the IR task as well as in the N700 time-window ofboth tasks. N400 and N700 effects were found for SPECIFIC-GENERAL test words also when they were matched for imageability, indicating that something other than imageabilityper se was driving the effects.

Conclusion: The pattern of ERPamplitudes seen in the present study could be explained by a model which assumes that words with larger numbers of associated words in the mental lexicon yield smaller N400s, for example abstract as compared to concrete words and real words as compared to pseudowords. The fact that N400 andN700 effects were found for SPECIFIC-GENERAL test wordseven when they were matched for imageability indicates that other factors, possibly related to hierarchical semantic relationsbetween concrete noun categories, drive the effect. In line withthe suggested model, this might be explained by superordinate GENERAL nouns having a larger number of lexical associates than SPECIFIC nouns.

References:

Barber, H. A., Otten, L. J., Kousta, S.-T., & Vigliocco, G. (2013). Brain and Language, 125(1), 47–53.

Gullick, M. M., Mitra, P., & Coch, D. (2013). Psychophysiology, 50(5), 431–440.

Kounios, J., & Holcomb, P. J. (1994). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20(4), 804–823.

Lau, E. F., Phillips, C., & Poeppel, D. (2008). Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 920–933.

Nittono, H., Suehiro, M., & Hori, T. (2002). International Journal of Psychophysiology, 1–11.

West, W. C., & Holcomb, P. J. (2000). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12(6), 1024–1037.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. p. 207-207
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Humanities, Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-78160OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-78160DiVA, id: diva2:1279788
Conference
8th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. SNL 2016. Aug 17-20, London, UK
Available from: 2019-01-17 Created: 2019-01-17 Last updated: 2019-02-05Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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