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Brain Responses to World Knowledge Violations: A Comparison of Stimulus- and Fixation-triggered Event-related Potentials and Neural Oscillations

Brain Responses to World Knowledge Violations: A Comparison of Stimulus- and Fixation-triggered Event-related Potentials and Neural Oscillations

Authors: 
Paul Metzner, Titus von der Malsburg, Shravan Vasishth, and Frank Rösler
Year: 
2014
Journal: 
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Abstract: 

Recent research has shown that brain potentials time-locked to fixations in natural reading can be similar to brain potentials recorded during rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP). We attempted two replications of Hagoort, Hald, Bastiaansen, and Petersson [Hagoort, P., Hald, L., Bastiaansen, M., & Petersson, K. M. Integration of word meaning and world knowledge in language comprehension. Science, 304, 438–441, 2004] to determine whether this correspondence also holds for oscillatory brain responses. Hagoort et al. reported an N400 effect and synchronization in the theta and gamma range following world knowledge violations. Our first experiment (n = 32) used RSVP and replicated both the N400 effect in the ERPs and the power increase in the theta range in the time–frequency domain. In the second experiment (n = 49), participants read the same materials freely while their eye movements and their EEG were monitored. First fixation durations, gaze durations, and regression rates were increased, and the ERP showed an N400 effect. An analysis of time–frequency representations showed synchronization in the delta range (1–3 Hz) and desynchronization in the upper alpha range (11–13 Hz) but no theta or gamma effects. The results suggest that oscillatory EEG changes elicited by world knowledge violations are different in natural reading and RSVP. This may reflect differences in how representations are constructed and retrieved from memory in the two presentation modes.

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