Magnetoencephalography Reveals Mismatch Field Enhancement from Unexpected Syntactic Category Errors in English Sentences

Mikio Kubota, Yumie Ono, Atsushi Ishiyama, George Zouridakis, Andrew C. Papanicolaou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The type of syntactic operations that increase neuronal activation in humans as a result of syntactically erroneous, unexpected lexical items in hearing sentences has remained unclear. In the present study, we used recordings of magnetoencephalographic (MEG) activity to compare bare infinitive and full infinitive constructions in English. This research aims to identify the type of syntactic deviance that may trigger an early syntax-related mismatch field (MMF) component when unexpected words appear in sentences. Six speakers of English as a first language were presented with auditory stimuli of sentences or words in a passive odd-ball paradigm while watching a silent movie. The experimental protocol included four sessions, specifically investigating the sentential (structural) versions of full (with the ‘to’ infinitival particle) and bare infinitival structures (without the particle) and the lexical (non-structure) versions of the verb either with or without the particle to determine whether the structure processing of sentences was a more crucial factor in the detection of the MMF than the simple processing of lexical items in verb-only conditions. The amplitude analysis of the resulting evoked fields showed that the presence of the syntactic category error of bare infinitival structures against syntactic predictions evoked a significantly larger MMF activation with a peak latency of approximately 200 ms in the anterior superior temporal sulci in the left hemisphere, compared with the lexical items that did not have any syntactic status. These results clearly demonstrate that syntactically unexpected, illegal input in the bare infinitival structure is likely to be noticed more robustly in the brain while processing the structural information of the entire sentence than the corresponding verb-only items.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)195-204
    Number of pages10
    JournalNeuroscience Letters
    Volume662
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1

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    Magnetoencephalography
    Temporal Lobe
    Motion Pictures
    Automatic Data Processing
    Hearing
    Language
    Brain
    Research

    Keywords

    • Daubechies 8 mother wavelet noise reduction
    • Early syntactic component (ESC)
    • Language
    • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
    • Mismatch magnetic field (MMF)
    • Odd-ball paradigm

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)

    Cite this

    Magnetoencephalography Reveals Mismatch Field Enhancement from Unexpected Syntactic Category Errors in English Sentences. / Kubota, Mikio; Ono, Yumie; Ishiyama, Atsushi; Zouridakis, George; Papanicolaou, Andrew C.

    In: Neuroscience Letters, Vol. 662, 01.01.2018, p. 195-204.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Kubota, Mikio ; Ono, Yumie ; Ishiyama, Atsushi ; Zouridakis, George ; Papanicolaou, Andrew C. / Magnetoencephalography Reveals Mismatch Field Enhancement from Unexpected Syntactic Category Errors in English Sentences. In: Neuroscience Letters. 2018 ; Vol. 662. pp. 195-204.
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    abstract = "The type of syntactic operations that increase neuronal activation in humans as a result of syntactically erroneous, unexpected lexical items in hearing sentences has remained unclear. In the present study, we used recordings of magnetoencephalographic (MEG) activity to compare bare infinitive and full infinitive constructions in English. This research aims to identify the type of syntactic deviance that may trigger an early syntax-related mismatch field (MMF) component when unexpected words appear in sentences. Six speakers of English as a first language were presented with auditory stimuli of sentences or words in a passive odd-ball paradigm while watching a silent movie. The experimental protocol included four sessions, specifically investigating the sentential (structural) versions of full (with the ‘to’ infinitival particle) and bare infinitival structures (without the particle) and the lexical (non-structure) versions of the verb either with or without the particle to determine whether the structure processing of sentences was a more crucial factor in the detection of the MMF than the simple processing of lexical items in verb-only conditions. The amplitude analysis of the resulting evoked fields showed that the presence of the syntactic category error of bare infinitival structures against syntactic predictions evoked a significantly larger MMF activation with a peak latency of approximately 200 ms in the anterior superior temporal sulci in the left hemisphere, compared with the lexical items that did not have any syntactic status. These results clearly demonstrate that syntactically unexpected, illegal input in the bare infinitival structure is likely to be noticed more robustly in the brain while processing the structural information of the entire sentence than the corresponding verb-only items.",
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