Skills and Expertise
Research Items (68)
Previous studies have suggested that multilingual speakers do not represent their languages entirely separately but instead share some representations across languages. To determine whether sharing is affected by language similarity, we investigated whether participants' tendency to repeat syntax across languages was affected by language similarity. In three cross-linguistic structural priming experiments, trilingual Mandarin-Cantonese-English participants heard a sentence in Cantonese or English (which they matched to a picture) and then described a dative event in Mandarin. When prime and target sentences involved different actions (Experiment 1), structural priming was unaffected by language similarity. But when prime and target involved the same action (Experiments 2 and 3), priming was stronger between related languages (i.e., Cantonese to Mandarin) than unrelated languages (i.e., English to Mandarin). Similar languages are not more integrated than dissimilar languages overall, but the representations that connect lexical and syntactic information are more closely integrated .
- Apr 2018
Objective: This autism study investigated how inter-trial phase coherence (ITPC) drives abnormalities in auditory evoked potential (AEP) responses for speech and nonspeech stimuli. Methods: Auditory P1-N2 responses and ITPCs in the theta band (4~7 Hz) for pure tones and words were assessed with EEG data from 15 school-age children with autism and 16 age-matched typically developing (TD) controls. Results: The autism group showed enhanced P1 and reduced N2 for both speech and nonspeech stimuli in comparison with the TD group. Group differences were also found with enhanced theta ITPC for P1 followed by ITPC reduction for N2 in the autism group. The ITPC values were significant predictors of P1 and N2 amplitudes in both groups. Conclusions: Abnormal trial-to-trial phase synchrony plays an important role in AEP atypicalities in children with autism. ITPC-driven enhancement as well as attenuation in different AEP components may coexist, depending on the stage of information processing. Significance: It is necessary to examine the time course of auditory evoked potentials and the corresponding inter-trial coherence of neural oscillatory activities to better understand hyper- and hypo- sensitive responses in autism, which has important implications for sensory-based treatment. Web link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388245718309003
Although many studies have reported domain-general impaired duration perception for speech and nonspeech sounds in children with autism, it remained unclear whether this phenomenon is universally applicable regardless of language background. In some languages such as Finnish and Japanese, vowel duration serves a phonemic role that can signify semantic distinction, and in others (e.g., Mandarin Chinese), vowel duration does not carry this phonemic function. The present event-related potential study investigated neural sensitivity to duration contrasts in speech and nonspeech contexts in Mandarin-speaking children with autism and a control group of age-matched typically developing (TD) children. A passive oddball paradigm was adopted to elicit the mismatch negativity (MMN) and involuntary orienting response (P3a) for change detection. A pure tone condition and a vowel condition were used. The MMN results showed that the autism group had diminished response amplitudes and delayed latency in the pure tone condition compared to the TD group, whereas no group difference was found in the vowel condition. The P3a results showed no significant between-group MMN difference in the pure tone condition. In the vowel condition, the autism group had smaller P3a than the TD group. Together, the distinct patterns of discrimination and orienting responses for duration contrasts in pure tones and vowels are consistent with the “allophonic perception” theory for autism, which may reflect a compromised perceptual weighting system for speech learning.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
In second language acquisition studies, the high talker variability training approach has been frequently used to train participants to learn new speech patterns. However, the neuroplasticity induced by training is poorly understood. In the present study, native English speakers were trained on non-native pitch patterns (linguistic tones from Mandarin Chinese) in multi-talker (N = 16) or single-talker (N = 16) training conditions. We focused on two aspects of multi-talker training, voice processing and lexical phonology accessing, and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activation and functional connectivity (FC) of two regions of interest in a tone identification task conducted before and after training, namely the anterior part of the right superior temporal gyrus (aRSTG) and the posterior left superior temporal gyrus (pLSTG). The results showed distinct patterns of associations between neural signals and learning success for multi-talker training. Specifically, post-training brain activation in the aRSTG and FC strength between the aRSTG and pLSTG were correlated with learning success in multi-talker training group but not in the single-talker group. These results suggest that talker variability in training procedure may enhance neural efficiency in these brain areas and strengthen the cooperation between them. Our findings highlight the brain processing of newly learned speech patterns is influenced by the given training approach.
Native speakers develop specialized neural architectures in the processing of auditory patterns found in their language. However, little is known about the neural basis of language-specific processing of phonological patterns beyond the syllable level. The current event-related potential (ERP) study investigated cortical processing of native vs. nonnative prosodic phonology in a disyllabic context. The participants were 18 normal native Chinese-speaking adults who had at least six years of English-as-a-second-language course work in school. The speech stimuli included disyllabic nonsense words spoken in Chinese and in English, which were matched in syllabic structure and digitally edited for matching in overall duration and intensity. The control nonspeech stimuli were hummed versions of the speech stimuli, which preserved the acoustic prosodic features but not the phonetic content. The ERP data were obtained with a passive listening paradigm, showing an enhanced late negative response (LNR) for the native vs. nonnative comparison in the speech condition but not in the nonspeech condition. These results provided the initial evidence that the LNR component can reflect language-specific differences in prosodic phonology beyond auditory processing of the critical acoustic cues at the supra-syllabic level.
Comprehenders can use rich contextual information to anticipate upcoming input on the fly, but recent findings suggest that salient information about argument roles may not impact verb prediction. We took advantage of the word order properties of Mandarin Chinese to examine the time course with which argument role information impacts verb prediction. We isolated the contribution of argument role information by manipulating the order of pre-verbal noun phrase arguments while holding lexical information constant, and we examined its effects on accessing the verb in long-term semantic memory by measuring the amplitude of the N400 component. Experiment 1 showed when the verb appeared immediately after its arguments, even strongly constraining argument role information failed to modulate the N400 response to the verb. An N400 effect emerged in Experiment 2 when the verb appeared at a greater delay. Experiment 3 corroborated the contrast between the first two experiments through a within-participants manipulation of the time interval between the arguments and the verb, by varying the position of an adverbial phrase. These results suggest time is a key factor governing how diverse contextual information contributes to predictions. Here argument role information is shown to impact verb prediction, but its effect is not immediate. 3
It is widely acknowledged in Germanic languages that segments are the primary planning units at the phonological encoding stage of spoken word production. Mixed results, however, have been found in Chinese, and it is still unclear what roles syllables and segments play in planning Chinese spoken word production. In the current study, participants were asked to first prepare and later produce disyllabic Mandarin words upon picture prompts and a response cue while electroencephalogram (EEG) signals were recorded. Each two consecutive pictures implicitly formed a pair of prime and target, whose names shared the same word-initial atonal syllable or the same word-initial segments, or were unrelated in the control conditions. Only syllable repetition induced significant effects on event-related brain potentials (ERPs) after target onset: a widely distributed positivity in the 200- to 400-ms interval and an anterior positivity in the 400- to 600-ms interval. We interpret these to reflect syllable-size representations at the phonological encoding and phonetic encoding stages. Our results provide the first electrophysiological evidence for the distinct role of syllables in producing Mandarin spoken words, supporting a language specificity hypothesis about the primary phonological units in spoken word production.
- Oct 2017
Comprehenders can use rich contextual information to anticipate upcoming input on the fly, but recent findings suggest that salient information about argument roles may not impact verb prediction. We took advantage of the word order properties of Mandarin Chinese to examine the time course with which argument role information impacts verb prediction. We isolated the contribution of argument role information by manipulating the order of pre-verbal noun phrase arguments while holding lexical information constant, and we examined its effects on accessing the verb in long-term semantic memory by measuring the amplitude of the N400 component. Experiment 1 showed when the verb appeared immediately after its arguments, even strongly constraining argument role information failed to modulate the N400 response to the verb. An N400 effect emerged in Experiment 2 when the verb appeared at a greater delay. Experiment 3 corroborated the contrast between the first two experiments through a within-participants manipulation of the time interval between the arguments and the verb, by varying the position of an adverbial phrase. These results suggest time is a key factor governing how diverse contextual information contributes to predictions. Here argument role information is shown to impact verb prediction, but its effect is not immediate.
- Sep 2017
This report details an 18-month longitudinal study designed to investigate the influence of autistic traits’ on internet gaming addiction (IGA) in children. A total of 420 Chinese children (220 boys, Mean age = 9.74 ± 0.45) participated in the research. Autistic traits were measured in the 4th grade and emotion regulation, school connectedness and IGA measured in both the 4th and 5th grades. After controlling for age, sex, and sensation seeking, results showed that autistic traits were related to decreased emotion regulation, which in turn was related to lower school connectedness, which was related to increased IGA. The results suggest that improving emotion regulation and school connectedness could reduce the risk of IGA. As a result, these findings may inform intervention and prevention programs targeting children with IGA, especially among those with high levels of autistic traits.
Here we report on MELD-SCH (MEgastudy of Lexical Decision in Simplified CHinese), a dataset that contains the lexical decision data of 1,020 one-character, 10,022 two-character, 949 three-character, and 587 four-character simplified Chinese words obtained from 504 native Chinese users. It also includes a number of word-level and character-level variables. Analyses showed that the reliability of the dataset is satisfactory, as indicated by split-half correlations and comparisons with other datasets. Item-based regression showed that both word-level and character-level variables contributed significantly to the reaction times and error rates of lexical decision. Moreover, we discovered a U-shape relationship between word-length and reaction times, which has not been reported in Chinese before. MELD-SCH can facilitate research in Chinese word recognition by providing high quality normative data and information of different linguistic variables. It also encourages researchers to extend their empirical findings, which are mostly based on one-character and two-character words, to words of different lengths.
A significant neural challenge in speech perception includes extracting discrete phonetic categories from continuous and multidimensional signals despite varying task demands and surface acoustic variability. While neural representations of speech categories have been previously identified in frontal and posterior temporal-parietal regions, the task dependency and dimensional specificity of these neural representations are still unclear. Here, we asked native Mandarin participants to listen to speech syllables carrying four distinct lexical tone categories across passive listening, repetition, and categorization tasks while they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We used searchlight classification and representational similarity analysis (RSA) to identify the dimensional structure underlying neural representation across tasks and surface acoustic properties. Searchlight classification analyses revealed significant cross-task lexical tone decoding within the bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG) and left inferior parietal lobule (LIPL). RSA revealed that the LIPL and LSTG, in contrast to the RSTG, relate to two critical dimensions (pitch height, pitch direction) underlying tone perception. Outside this core representational network, we found greater activation in the inferior frontal and parietal regions for stimuli that are more perceptually similar during tone categorization. Our findings reveal the specific characteristics of fronto-tempo-parietal regions that support speech representation and categorization processing.
- Mar 2017
Word recognition in sentence reading is influenced by information from both preview and context. Recently, semantic preview effect (SPE) was observed being modulated by the constraint of context, indicating that context might accelerate the processing of semantically related preview words. Besides, SPE was found to depend on preview time, which suggests SPE may change with different processing stages of preview words. Therefore it raises the question of whether preview-time-dependent SPE would be modulated by contextual constraint. In the current study, we investigated the impact of contextual constraint on SPE in Chinese reading, but also examined its dependency on preview time. The preview word and the target word were identical, semantically related, or unrelated to the target word. The results showed a significant three-way interaction: The SPE depended on contextual constraint and preview time. In separate analyses for low and high contextual constraint of target words, the SPE significantly decreased with an increase in preview duration when the target word was of low constraint in the sentence. The effect was numerically in the same direction, but weaker and statistically non-significant when the target word was highly constrained in the sentence. The results indicate that word processing in sentences is a dynamic process of integrating information from both preview (bottom up) and context (top down).
Recent studies reveal that tonal language speakers with autism have enhanced neural sensitivity to pitch changes in nonspeech stimuli but not to lexical tone contrasts in their native language. The present ERP study investigated whether the distinct pitch processing pattern for speech and nonspeech stimuli in autism was due to a speech-specific deficit in categorical perception of lexical tones. A passive oddball paradigm was adopted to examine two groups (16 in the autism group and 15 in the control group) of Chinese children's Mismatch Responses (MMRs) to equivalent pitch deviations representing within-category and between-category differences in speech and nonspeech contexts. To further examine group-level differences in the MMRs to categorical perception of speech/nonspeech stimuli or lack thereof, neural oscillatory activities at the single trial level were further calculated with the inter-trial phase coherence (ITPC) measure for the theta and beta frequency bands. The MMR and ITPC data from the children with autism showed evidence for lack of categorical perception in the lexical tone condition. In view of the important role of lexical tones in acquiring a tonal language, the results point to the necessity of early intervention for the individuals with autism who show such a speech-specific categorical perception deficit.
Semantic priming is a crucial phenomenon to study the organization of semantic memory. A novel type of priming effect, integrative priming, has been identified behaviorally, whereby a prime word facilitates recognition of a target word when the 2 concepts can be combined to form a unitary representation. We used both functional and anatomical imaging approaches to investigate the neural substrates supporting such integrative priming, and compare them with those in semantic priming. Similar behavioral priming effects for both semantic (Bread-Cake) and integrative conditions (Cherry-Cake) were observed when compared with an unrelated condition. However, a clearly dissociated brain response was observed between these 2 types of priming. The semantic-priming effect was localized to the posterior superior temporal and middle temporal gyrus. In contrast, the integrative-priming effect localized to the left anterior inferior frontal gyrus and left anterior temporal cortices. Furthermore, fiber tractography showed that the integrative-priming regions were connected via uncinate fasciculus fiber bundle forming an integrative circuit, whereas the semantic-priming regions connected to the posterior frontal cortex via separated pathways. The results point to dissociable neural pathways underlying the 2 distinct types of priming, illuminating the neural circuitry organization of semantic representation and integration. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mar 2016
Although it is generally accepted that syntactic information is processed independently of semantic information in languages such as English, there is less agreement about whether the same is true in languages such as Mandarin that have fewer reliable cues to syntactic structure. We report five experiments that used a structural priming paradigm to investigate the independence of syntactic processing in Mandarin. In a recognition memory task, Mandarin native speakers described ditransitive events after repeating prime sentences with a double object (DO) or prepositional object (PO) structure. Participants tended to repeat syntactic structure across prime and target sentences. Critically, this tendency occurred whether or not semantic features (animacy of the recipient) were also repeated across sentences, both when the verb was repeated and when it was not. We conclude that Mandarin speakers compute independent syntactic representations during language processing.
- Jan 2016
- Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (V)
Whether syntactic processing occured earlier than semantics during Chinese sentence reading was further explored by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) as Chinese speakers read individually presented Chinese simple sentences and made semantic plausibility judgments. There are three types of stimuli: congruent sentences (CON), sentences with a semantically violation (SEM), and sentences with combined semantic and syntactic violation (SEM + SYN). The ERPs were analyzed by using both conventional ERP method and new method residue iteration decomposition (RIDE) that aims to compensate trial-to-trial latency variability. Overall, there is non-significant difference between SEM and SEM + SYN in the earlier N400 time window. These results suggest that syntactic processing in Chinese does not occur earlier than semantic processing.
- Nov 2015
A major challenge in language learning studies is to identify objective, pre-training predictors of success. Variation in the low-frequency fluctuations (LFFs) of spontaneous brain activity measured by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RS-fMRI) has been found to reflect individual differences in cognitive measures. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the extent to which initial spontaneous brain activity are related to individual differences in spoken language learning. We acquired RS-fMRI data and subsequently trained participants on a sound-to-word learning paradigm in which they learned to use foreign pitch patterns (from Mandarin Chinese) to signal word meaning. We performed the amplitude of spontaneous low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF) analysis, graph theory-based analysis, and independent component analysis (ICA) to identify functional components of the LFFs in the resting-state. First, we examined the ALFF as a regional measure and showed that regional ALFF in the left superior temporal gyrus was positively correlated with learning performance, whereas ALFFs in the default mode network regions (DMN) were negatively correlated with learning performance. Furthermore, the graph theory-based analysis indicated that the degree and local efficiency of the left superior temporal gyrus were positively correlated with learning performance. Finally, the default mode network and several task-positive resting-state networks were identified via the ICA. The ‘competition’ (i.e., negative correlation) between the DMN and the dorsal attention network was negatively correlated with learning performance. Our results demonstrate that a) spontaneous brain activity can predict future language learning outcome without prior hypotheses (e.g., selection of regions of interest), and b) both regional dynamics and network-level interactions in the resting brain can account for individual differences in future spoken language learning success.
During text reading, the parafoveal word was usually presented between 2° and 5° from the point of fixation. Whether semantic information of parafoveal words can be processed during sentence reading is a critical and long-standing issue. Recently, studies using the RSVP-flanker paradigm have shown that the incongruent parafoveal word, presented as right flanker, elicited a more negative N400 compared with the congruent parafoveal word. This suggests that the semantic information of parafoveal words can be extracted and integrated during sentence reading, because the N400 effect is a classical index of semantic integration. However, as most previous studies did not control the word-pair congruency of the parafoveal and the foveal words that were presented in the critical triad, it is still unclear whether such integration happened at the sentence level or just at the word-pair level. The present study addressed this question by manipulating verbs in Chinese sentences to yield either a semantically congruent or semantically incongruent context for the critical noun. In particular, the interval between the critical nouns and verbs was controlled to be 4 or 5 characters. Thus, to detect the incongruence of the parafoveal noun, participants had to integrate it with the global sentential context. The results revealed that the N400 time-locked to the critical triads was more negative in incongruent than in congruent sentences, suggesting that parafoveal semantic information can be integrated at the sentence level during Chinese reading.
- Aug 2015
Natural reading involves the preprocessing of upcoming words, resulting in shorter fixations on words visible in the parafovea during preceding fixations. While this preview benefit is established in behavior, its brain-electric correlates have only recently been investigated. Using fixation-related potentials, an attenuation of the occipitotemporal N1 component for words that were parafoveally visible during preceding fixations has been demonstrated. In contrast, another study, using an RSVP paradigm with parafoveal flanker words, observed no such general preview benefit in ERPs, but instead reported N400 effects triggered by semantically incongruous parafoveal words. To follow up on these discrepant findings and to extend them to a nonalphabetic writing system, we conducted two ERP experiments with Chinese readers using the RSVP-with-flankers paradigm and rigorous fixation control via eye tracking. We replicate robust parafoveal N400 semantic congruency effects in Chinese participants. Additionally, we found that, once a word was directly looked at, words after a valid preview elicited a smaller N1 and a weaker N400 than those after an invalid preview. Results underline the importance of considering parafoveal vision in ERP studies on reading. © 2015 Society for Psychophysiological Research.
The present study investigated pitch processing in Mandarin-speaking children with autism using event-related potential measures. Two experiments were designed to test how acoustic, phonetic and semantic properties of the stimuli contributed to the neural responses for pitch change detection and involuntary attentional orienting. In comparison with age-matched (6-12 years) typically developing controls (16 participants in Experiment 1, 18 in Experiment 2), children with autism (18 participants in Experiment 1, 16 in Experiment 2) showed enhanced neural discriminatory sensitivity in the nonspeech conditions but not for speech stimuli. The results indicate domain specificity of enhanced pitch processing in autism, which may interfere with lexical tone acquisition and language development for children who speak a tonal language.
This study systematically examines the role of intensified exposure to a second language on accommodating talker variability. English native listeners (n = 37) were compared to Mandarin listeners who had either lived in the United States for an extended period of time (n = 33) or had only lived in China (n = 44). Listeners responded to target words in an English word-monitoring task in which sequences of words were randomised. Half of the sequences were spoken by a single talker, the other half by multiple talkers. Mandarin listeners living in China were slower and less accurate than both English listeners, and Mandarin listeners living in the United States. Mandarin listeners living in the United States were less accurate than English natives only in the more cognitively demanding mixed-talker condition. Mixed-talker speech affects processing in native and nonnative listeners alike, although the decrement is larger in nonnatives, and further exaggerated in less proficient listeners. Language immersion improves listeners' ability to resolve talker variability, and suggest that immersion may automatise nonnative processing, freeing cognitive resources that may play a crucial role in speech perception. These results lend support to the active control model of speech perception.
A number of studies have explored the time course of Chinese semantic and syntactic processing. However, whether syntactic processing occurs earlier than semantics during Chi-nese sentence reading is still under debate. To further explore this issue, an event-related potentials (ERPs) experiment was conducted on 21 native Chinese speakers who read individually presented Chinese simple sentences (NP1+VP+NP2) word-byword for comprehension and made semantic plausibility judgments. The transitivity of the verbs was manipulated to form three types of stimuli: congruent sentences (CON), sentences with a semantically violated NP2 following a transitive verb (semantic violation, SEM), and sentences with a semantically violated NP2 following an intransitive verb (combined semantic and syntactic violation, SEM+SYN). The ERPs evoked from the target NP2 were analyzed by using the Residue Iteration Decomposition (RIDE) method to reconstruct the ERP wave-form blurred by trial-to-trial variability, as well as by using the conventional ERP method based on stimulus-locked averaging. The conventional ERP analysis showed that, compared with the critical words in CON, those in SEM and SEM+SYN elicited an N400–P600 biphasic pattern. The N400 effects in both violation conditions were of similar size and distribution , but the P600 in SEM+SYN was bigger than that in SEM. Compared with the conventional ERP analysis, RIDE analysis revealed a larger N400 effect and an earlier P600 effect (in the time window of 500–800 ms instead of 570–810ms). Overall, the combination of conventional ERP analysis and the RIDE method for compensating for trial-to-trial variability confirmed the non-significant difference between SEM and SEM+SYN in the earlier N400 time window. Converging with previous findings on other Chinese structures, the current
- Feb 2014
Previous studies have shown that a plausible preview word can facilitate the processing of a target word as compared to an implausible preview word (a plausibility preview benefit effect) when reading Chinese (Yang, Wang, Tong, & Rayner, 2012; Yang, 2013). Regarding the nature of this effect, it is possible that readers processed the meaning of the plausible preview word and did not actually encode the target word (given that the parafoveal preview word lies close to the fovea). The current experiment examined this possibility with three conditions wherein readers received a preview of a target word that was either (1) identical to the target word (identical preview), (2) a plausible continuation of the pre-target text, but the post-target text in the sentence was incompatible with it (initially plausible preview), or (3) not a plausible continuation of the pre-target text, nor compatible with the post-target text (implausible preview). Gaze durations on target words were longer in the initially plausible condition than the identical condition. Overall, the results showed a typical preview benefit, but also implied that readers did not encode the initially plausible preview. Also, a plausibility preview benefit was replicated: gaze durations were longer with implausible previews than the initially plausible ones. Furthermore, late eye movement measures did not reveal differences between the initially plausible and the implausible preview conditions, which argues against the possibility of misreading the plausible preview word as the target word. In sum, these results suggest that a plausible preview word provides benefit in processing the target word as compared to an implausible preview word, and this benefit is only present in early but not late eye movement measures.
Previous studies have indicated that sentences are comprehended via widespread brain regions in the fronto-temporo-parietal network in explicit language tasks (e.g., semantic congruency judgment tasks), and through restricted temporal or frontal regions in implicit language tasks (e.g., font size judgment tasks). This discrepancy has raised questions regarding a common network for sentence comprehension that acts regardless of task effect and whether different tasks modulate network properties. To this end, we constructed brain functional networks based on 27 subjects' fMRI data that was collected while performing explicit and implicit language tasks. We found that network properties and network hubs corresponding to the implicit language task were similar to those associated with the explicit language task. We also found common hubs in occipital, temporal and frontal regions in both tasks. Compared with the implicit language task, the explicit language task resulted in greater global efficiency and increased integrated betweenness centrality of the left inferior frontal gyrus, which is a key region related to sentence comprehension. These results suggest that brain functional networks support both explicit and implicit sentence comprehension; in addition, these two types of language tasks may modulate the properties of brain functional networks.
Using the event-related optical signal (EROS) technique, this study investigated the dynamics of semantic brain activation during sentence comprehension. Participants read sentences constituent-by-constituent and made a semantic judgment at the end of each sentence. The EROSs were recorded simultaneously with ERPs and time-locked to expected or unexpected sentence-final target words. The unexpected words evoked a larger N400 and a late positivity than the expected ones. Critically, the EROS results revealed activations first in the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (LpMTG) between 128 and 192 ms, then in the left anterior inferior frontal gyrus (LaIFG), the left middle frontal gyrus (LMFG), and the LpMTG in the N400 time window, and finally in the left posterior inferior frontal gyrus (LpIFG) between 832 and 864 ms. Also, expected words elicited greater activation than unexpected words in the left anterior temporal lobe (LATL) between 192 and 256 ms. These results suggest that the early lexical-semantic retrieval reflected by the LpMTG activation is followed by two different semantic integration processes: a relatively rapid and transient integration in the LATL and a relatively slow but enduring integration in the LaIFG/LMFG and the LpMTG. The late activation in the LpIFG, however, may reflect cognitive control.
- Apr 2013
How constituent concepts of a compound concept are put together for meaning construction is an important question in cognition. Using English noun-noun compounds with a modifier+noun structure, researchers have observed relation priming between compounds that share the same relation (snowball vs. snowman) compared with those that do not (snowball vs. snowshovel), suggesting explicit use of relation information during comprehension of compound expressions. The present study examined the temporal characteristics of relation priming with event-related potentials. Participants were presented with lists of two-character noun+noun Chinese compound words and judged whether each was semantically meaningful or not. About 260ms following word presentation, the semantic N400 response was significantly reduced if a word was preceded by a prime with the same first character, indicating semantic processing of constituent morphemes. However, N400 was not modulated by manipulation of relation priming until around 340ms. Results confirm the use of relation information in semantic composition, but more critically provide the first piece of evidence that compound word comprehension involves serial processing where constituent morphemes are activated in stage one and bound by their relation in stage two.
To investigate the functional significance of the late positive complex (LPC) in the Stroop task, the present study recruited 22 participants and had them report the color of words in the classical Stroop task and the rotation state of words in a Rotation judgment task. Color words whose ink color was either congruent (CON) or incongruent (INCON) with the word's meaning were presented in both tasks. Consistent with previous studies, the N450 and LPC were observed in the Stroop task, accompanied by slowed reaction time (RT) in the INCON condition compared with the CON condition. Notably, a larger LPC was observed in the INCON condition than in the CON condition in the Rotation task, while RT and accuracy were comparable between the two conditions. Because the incongruence between ink color and word meaning was independent from the response, and neither influenced accuracy nor RT in the Rotation task, the results suggested that the LPC may have resulted from the perceptual conflict between ink color and word meaning.
- Aug 2012
Outcome uncertainty plays an important role in decision making. The present study used event-related potentials (ERP) combined with a simple gambling task to investigate the time course of outcome uncertainty processing in the gain and the loss domains. Behaviorally, participants showed a preference for the uncertain option in the gain domain, whereas they showed no such preference in the loss domain. In ERP analyses, the feedback-related negativity (FRN) amplitudes mirrored the behavioral results: for gains, cue-elicited FRN amplitudes were more negative for uncertain than for certain cues, whereas for losses, cue-elicited FRN amplitudes for certain cues and uncertain cues were not different. In contrast, the P300 amplitude was sensitive to the valence of cues (gains or losses) but not to the uncertainty of the outcome. These results suggest that the outcome uncertainty is rapidly and differentially processed in the gain and loss domains.
Background / Purpose: We recently reported a new event-related potentials (ERP) component called the centro-parietal N200 that reflects orthographic processing of two-character Chinese words and seems to be specific to Chinese visual word recognition. Main conclusion: The centro-parietal N200 response is a neural marker of orthographic processing in Chinese visual word recognition.
Eye movements of Chinese readers were monitored as they read sentences containing a critical character that was either a 1-character word or the initial character of a 2-character word. Due to manipulation of the verb prior to the target word, the 1-character target word (or the first character of the 2-character target word) was either plausible or implausible, as an independent word, at the point at which it appeared, whereas the 2-character word was always plausible. The eye movement data showed that the plausibility manipulation did not exert an influence on the reading of the 2-character word or its component characters. However, plausibility significantly influenced reading of the 1-character target word. These results suggest that processes of semantic integration in reading Chinese are performed at a word level, instead of a character level, and that word segmentation must take place very early in the course of processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Although previous studies have consistently demonstrated that gender information is used to resolve pronouns, the mechanisms underlying the use of gender information continue to be controversial. The present study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate whether working memory modulates the effect of gender information on pronoun resolution. The critical pronoun agreed or disagreed with its antecedent in gender. Moreover, the distance between a pronoun and its antecedent was varied to assess the influence of working memory. Compared with the congruent pronouns, the incongruent pronouns elicited an N400 effect in the short distance condition and a P600 effect in the long distance condition. The results suggest that the effect of gender information on pronoun comprehension is modulated by working memory.
The boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) was used to examine whether high level information affects preview benefit during Chinese reading. In two experiments, readers read sentences with a 1-character target word while their eye movements were monitored. In Experiment 1, the semantic relatedness between the target word and the preview word was manipulated so that there were semantically related and unrelated preview words, both of which were not plausible in the sentence context. No significant differences between these two preview conditions were found, indicating no effect of semantic preview. In Experiment 2, we further examined semantic preview effects with plausible preview words. There were four types of previews: identical, related & plausible, unrelated & plausible, and unrelated & implausible. The results revealed a significant effect of plausibility as single fixation and gaze duration on the target region were shorter in the two plausible conditions than in the implausible condition. Moreover, there was some evidence for a semantic preview benefit as single fixation duration on the target region was shorter in the related & plausible condition than the unrelated & plausible condition. Implications of these results for processing of high level information during Chinese reading are discussed.
Although most studies of reading English (and other alphabetic languages) have indicated that readers do not obtain preview benefit from word n + 2, Yang, Wang, Xu, and Rayner (2009) reported evidence that Chinese readers obtain preview benefit from word n + 2. However, this effect may not be common in Chinese because the character prior to the target word in Yang et al.'s experiment was always a very high frequency function word. In the current experiment, we utilized a relatively low frequency word n + 1 to examine whether an n + 2 preview benefit effect would still exist and failed to find any preview benefit from word n + 2. These results are consistent with a recent study which indicated that foveal load modulates the perceptual span during Chinese reading (Yan, Kliegl, Shu, Pan, & Zhou, 2010). Implications of these results for models of eye movement control are discussed.
The present study investigates whether the complement falsity elicited by strong non-factive verbs and the false belief activated by a standard nonverbal false belief task produce similar electrophysiological activities in the brain. The hypothesis is based on the notion that both complement falsity and false belief involve decoupling a false mental representation from reality. Some previous studies have reported a behavioral correlation between children's false belief reasoning and interpretation of strong non-factive verbs together with their false complements, but a neural basis for this correlation has not been found. Our event-related potential (ERP) results with normal adults showed that both nonverbal false belief and strong non-factive verb comprehension elicited a negative late slow waveform divergence compared to their respective baselines. Although these slow waves due to the two types of stimuli had slightly different scalp distributions, both were regarded as reflecting primarily frontal activation. Such ERP similarity provides evidence for a common neural basis shared by nonverbal false belief reasoning and comprehension of strong non-factive verbs.
Readers’ eye movements were monitored as they read Chinese two-constituent compound words in sentence contexts. The first compound-word constituent was either an infrequent character with a highly predictable second constituent or a frequent character with an unpredictable second constituent. The parafoveal preview of the second constituent was manipulated, with four preview conditions: identical to the correct form; a semantically related character to the second constituent; a semantically unrelated character to the second constituent; and a pseudocharacter. An invisible boundary was set between the two constituents; when the eyes moved across the boundary, the previewed character was changed to its intended form. The main findings were that preview effects occurred for the second constituent of the compound word. Providing an incorrect preview of the second constituent affected fixations on the first constituent, but only when the second constituent was predictable from the first. The frequency of the initial character of the compound constrained the identity of the second character, and this in turn modulated the extent to which the semantic characteristics of the preview influenced processing of the second constituent and the compound word as a whole. The results are considered in relation to current accounts of Chinese compound-word recognition and the constraint hypothesis of Hyönä, Bertram, and Pollatsek (20048. Hyönä , J. , Bertram , R. and Pollatsek , A. 2004. Are long compound words identified serially via their constituents? Evidence from an eye-movement-contingent display change study. Memory & Cognition, 32: 523–532. (doi:10.3758/BF03195844) [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references). We conclude that word identification in Chinese is flexible, and parafoveal processing of upcoming characters is influenced both by the characteristics of the fixated character and by its relationship with the characters in the parafovea.
The time course of semantic and syntactic processing in reading Chinese was examined by recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs) as native Chinese speakers read individually presented sentences for comprehension and performed semantic plausibility judgments. The transitivity of the verbs in Chinese ba/bei constructions was manipulated to form three types of stimuli: Congruent sentences (CON), sentences with semantic violation (SEM), and sentences with combined semantic and syntactic violation (SEM + SYN). Compared with the critical words in CON, those in SEM and SEM + SYN elicited an N400-P600 biphasic pattern. The N400 effects in both violation conditions were of similar size and distribution, but the P600 in SEM + SYN was bigger than that in SEM. Overall, the lack of a difference between SEM and SEM + SYN in the earlier time window (i.e., N400 window) suggested that syntactic processing in Chinese does not necessarily occur earlier than semantic processing.
- Dec 2011
Using fMRI, the present study compares the brain activation underlying false belief thinking induced by pictorial, nonverbal material to that instigated by strong non-factive verbs in a sample of adult Chinese speakers. These verbs obligatorily negate their complements which describe the mind content of the sentence agent, and thus may activate part of the false belief network. Some previous studies have shown a behavioral correlation between verb non-factivity/false complementation and conventional false belief but corresponding neural evidence is lacking. Our results showed that the non-factive grammar and false belief commonly implicated the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), which had been shown by past studies to play a role in general mentalizing. Regions that were unique to nonverbal false belief were the left TPJ and right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), whereas the unique regions for the non-factive grammar were the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and right superior temporal gyrus (STG). Hence, conventional nonverbal false belief and verb non-factivity have both shared and unique neural representations.
- Sep 2011
An active recent line of research on working memory and attention has shown that the visual attention can be top-down guided by working memory contents. The present study examined whether the guidance effect is modulated by memory load, i.e., the amount of information maintained in working memory. In a set of three experiments, participants were asked to perform a visual search task while maintaining several objects in working memory. The memory-driven attentional guidance effect was observed in all experiments when there were spare working memory resources. When memory load was increased from one item to two items, there was no sign that the guidance effect was attenuated. When load was further increased to four items, the guidance effect disappeared completely, indicating a clear impact of memory load on attentional guidance.
- Sep 2010
Recent work shows that items maintained in working memory could guide the orienting of attention in visual search, demonstrating an interesting interaction between working memory and attention. For such guidance effect, some studies emphasize the importance of search task type: for fixed-target search, task-irrelevant memory items stay inside the attentional focus and guides attention; for varied-target search, these items stay outside attentional focus and do not guide attention. With two experiments, we showed that stimulus attribute of items held in working memory can play an important role in attentional guidance. The first behavioral experiment duplicated a previous fixed-target search paradigm demonstrating robust guidance effect but failed to find such effect when the stimuli was simply changed from colored shapes to complex artificial shapes. The second event-related potential experiment duplicated a previous varied-target search paradigm that used complex shapes but did not observe any guidance effect. A clear guidance effect was found when we changed the stimuli to colored shapes. The results suggest that attentional guidance from working memory depends on stimulus attributes of the items held in working memory. When effective attribute is used, task-irrelevant items that stay outside the attentional focus are still able to guide attention.
- Aug 2010
The present experiments explored the resolution of activated background information in text comprehension. In Experiment 1, participants read passages that contained an elaboration section that was either consistent or qualified (inconsistent but then corrected to be consistent) with respect to the subsequently presented target sentence (see O'Brien et al., 1998). However, the experiment used two target sentences, and several filler sentences were inserted between the first and second target sentence. The results showed that the reading times for the first target sentence in the qualified elaboration version were significantly longer than those in the consistent elaboration version. These were consistent with O'Brien's study, and further indicated that the basic process captured by the memory-based view appears to generalize to the Chinese reader better than does the here-and-now view. More importantly, the results showed that the reading times for the second target sentence in the qualified elaboration version were as long as those in the consistent elaboration version. These further indicated that the activation of background information not only maintained the coherence of the text, but also allowed for the relevant information to be updated, resulting in a unified information set. When the information was reactivated during ongoing reading, it would be in the form of unified information. In Experiment 2, the first target sentence in each passage from Experiment 1 was converted to a filler sentence, and the second target sentence became the target sentence. The results of Experiment 2 showed that the reading times for the target sentence in the qualified elaboration version were significantly longer than those for the consistent elaboration version. These indicated that the delay between the target sentences and the elaboration section was not responsible for the lack of differences in Experiment 1, and confirmed the conclusion of Experiment 1.
- Feb 2010
The present study examined the relationship between P200 and phonological processing in Chinese word recognition. Participants did a semantic judgment task on pairs of words. The critical pairs were all semantically unrelated in one of three conditions: homophonic, rhyme, or phonologically unrelated. Noting the possibility that P200 may be affected by phonological similarity and orthographic similarity and that literature studies may not have assessed such effects separately, the present study used visually dissimilar word pairs sharing no phonetic radicals. Relative to the control pairs, both the homophonic and rhyme pairs elicited a significantly larger P200 with a scalp distribution centering at the centro-parietal areas. The results present strong evidence that P200 can be modulated by lexical phonology alone, independent of sub-lexical phonology, or lexical or sub-lexical orthography. P200 effects were comparable in amplitude and topography between the homophonic and the rhyme conditions, suggesting that P200 is sensitive to phonology at both the syllabic and the sub-syllabic levels.
In the present study, we examined the time course of semantic and syntactic processing when Chinese is read. Readers' eye movements were monitored, and the relation between a single-character critical word and the sentence context was manipulated such that three kinds of sentences were developed: (1) congruent, (2) those with a semantic violation, and (3) those with both a semantic and a syntactic violation. The eye movement data showed that the first-pass reading times were significantly longer for the target region in the two violation conditions than in the congruent condition. Moreover, the semantic+syntactic violation caused more severe disruption than did the pure semantic violation, as reflected by longer first-pass reading times for the target region and by longer go-past times for the target region and posttarget region in the former than in the latter condition. These results suggest that the effects of, at least, a semantic violation can be detected immediately by Chinese readers and that the processing of syntactic and semantic information is distinct in both first-pass and second-pass reading.
The boundary paradigm (K. Rayner, 1975) was used to determine the extent to which Chinese readers obtain information from the right of fixation during reading. As characters are the basic visual unit in written Chinese, they were used as targets in Experiment 1 to examine whether readers obtain preview information from character n + 1 and character n + 2. The results from Experiment 1 suggest they do. In Experiment 2, 2-character target words were used to determine whether readers obtain preview information from word n + 2 as well as word n + 1. Robust preview effects were obtained for word n + 1. There was also evidence from gaze duration (but not first fixation duration), suggesting preview effects for word n + 2. Moreover, there was evidence for parafoveal-on-foveal effects in Chinese reading in both experiments. Implications of these results for models of eye movement control are discussed.
- Jun 2009
Using event-related functional MRI, we examined the involvement of the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) in semantic integration in reading Chinese sentences. During scanning, Chinese readers read individually presented sentences and judged whether or not a sentence was semantically acceptable. Behaviorally, those sentences with a small degree of semantic violation were found to be more difficult to reject relative to sentences with a large degree of semantic violation, indicating that more semantic integration occurred in the former than in the latter condition. Direct contrast revealed significantly greater brain activity in the LIFG for sentences with a small violation, relative to those with a large violation, but no differences in any anterior temporal cortical areas between the two types of anomalous sentences. The results are in line with the idea that the LIFG plays a critical role in integrating individual word meanings to coherent sentence-level messages, but not with the idea that semantic integration depends on anterior temporal cortex in language comprehension.
- May 2008
Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (ER-fMRI) was adopted to examine brain activation of syntactic processing in reading logographic Chinese. While fMRI data were obtained, 15 readers of Chinese read individually presented sentences and performed semantic congruency judgments on three kinds of sentences: Congruous sentences (CON), sentences with a semantic violation (SEM), and sentences with both semantic and syntactic violations (SEM+SYN). The two types of incongruous sentences were matched in the degree of semantic plausibility. Three brain regions were identified showing significantly different levels of percent signal change across the three conditions, including BA44 in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and both BA9 and BA10/46 in the left middle frontal gyrus (MFG). Furthermore, the mean percent signal change in the left BA44 observed in the SEM+SYN condition was significantly stronger than that in either the SEM or the CON condition, while the latter two conditions were at a similar level, implying an important role of this area in Chinese syntactic processing. These results, in conjunction with those found in alphabetic scripts, suggest that there are some common neural substrates underlie syntactic processing across distinctive writing systems such as the logographic Chinese and the alphabetic English.
- Mar 2008
An eye-movement study was conducted to examine whether Chinese readers immediately activate and integrate related background information during discourse comprehension. Participants were asked to read short passages, each containing a critical word that fitted well within the local context but was inconsistent or neutral with background information from the early part of the passage. This manipulation of textual consistency produced reliable effects on both first-pass reading fixations in the target region and second-pass reading times in the pre-target and target regions. These results indicate that integration processes start very rapidly in reading text in a writing system with properties that encourage delayed processing, suggesting that immediate processing is likely a universal principle in discourse comprehension.
- Jul 2004
Complex complements are clausal objects containing tensed verbs (e.g., that she cried) or infinitives (e.g., to cry), following main verbs of communication or mental activities (e.g., say, want). This research examined whether English- and Cantonese-speaking 4-year-olds' complement understanding uniquely predicts their representation of other minds (i.e., theory of mind). Results showed that neither meaning of main verbs (communication vs. desire) nor complement structure (tensed vs. infinitival) affected the correlation between complement understanding and theory of mind. More important, the correlation became insignificant after controlling for general language comprehension. These findings led to the conclusion that the syntax of complement per se does not contribute uniquely to theory-of-mind development; general language comprehension is a more important factor to consider.