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Predictive Processing of Aspectual Information: Evidence from event-related brain potentials

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Abstract and Figures

We conducted an event-related potential experiment using aspectual coercion to examine whether aspectual information is predictively processed prior to verb input in Japanese. In the experiment, experimental sentences were presented with two presentation durations (500 ms vs. 800 ms) to manipulate the temporal predictability of a verb. Aspectually coerced sentences elicited an early anterior negativity (AN) only when participants had a sufficient time to generate an aspectual prediction for a verb. A late AN was observed in aspectual coercion irrespective of the manipulation of the duration. This result indicates that early AN is elicited by a prediction error pertaining to aspectual information, suggesting that aspectual information is computed predictively based on adverbials without waiting for verb information.
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Language,(Cognition(and(Neuroscience(
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Predictive)processing)of)aspectual)information:)
Evidence)from)event-related)brain)potentials)
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Masataka)Yano)
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→ → → → →
200$ms 100$ms 100$ms 100$ms 500$ms
→ → → → →
200$ms 100$ms 100$ms 100$ms 800$ms
Long$SOA
Fixation
R1
R2
R3
R4
Response

-

3
AC
0.

.
800$ms
700$ms
700$ms
700$ms
700$ms
1500$ms
Short$SOA
Fixation
R1
R2
R3
R4
Response

-

3
AC
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
.
800$ms
400$ms
400$ms
400$ms
400$ms
1500$ms
!
"7!
!
3.4.)Electrophysiological)recording)
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!
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3.6.)Prediction)
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!
11!
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GoLN`dF>&!FU"B!"7V!v!7*36B!p(w!/*/"V*!G#9!@?S$-:A$,J9!A+<(,$,+<@!@#+R9(!:!@,.<,=,A:<$!@,;%E9!9==9A$!+=!M`odMT`W!
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0*22B!p( w!/*/7]!FU"B!"7V!v!2*75B!p(w!/*/7V*! G#9! %+@$! #+A!:<:EK@9@!+=!9:A#!M`odMT`WQGlNo!-9J9:E9(!:!@,.<,=,A:<$!
9==9A$! :$! X%"'1! =+-!$#9! @?S$-:A$,J9! A+<(,$,+<! UFU"B! "7V! v! 0*45B! p( w! /*/"V! :<(! :! @,.<,=,A:<$! 9==9 A$! :$! $#9! E9=$!
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!
!
12!
Table)2*!D?;;:-K!+=!FQJ:E?9@!:$!$#9!E:$9!FW!$,;9!R,<(+R*!
!
L,(E,<9!
>:$9-:E!
G9;%+-:E!
D`F!
"*50!
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2*"6!
m!
0*0/!
ii!
M!
2*22!
m!
5*65!
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5*4/!
i!
D`F!!M!
1*6"!
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"*47!
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/*"4!
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M!!F<$!
/*/4!
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/*"3!
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/*/6!
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MG!!M!
w!/*/"!
!
w!/*/"!
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/*46!
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D`F!!M!!F<$!
/*73!
!
1*45!
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/*22!
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D`F!!MG!!M!
"*62!
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5*"/!
m!
1*73!
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MG!!M!!F<$!
2*2/!
m!
5*40!
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4*05!
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/*/3!
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/*/7!
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1*00!
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"*61!
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1*73!
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W+$9&!m!p!w!*"/B!i!p!w!*/7B!ii!p!w!*/"B!iii!p!w!*//7!
!
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E+<.!D`F!A+<(,$,+<!UFU"B!"7V!v!4*/2B!p(w!/*/"V*!
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/*/4B! p( v! /*37]! @#+-$!D`F! A+<(,$,+<&! LT8>TWo&!FU"B! "7V! v! "*54B! p( v! /*12B! >FGodF>&!FU"B! "7V! v! /*22B! p( v! /*76B!
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!
15!
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S9$R99<Q%:-$,A,%:<$! A+;%:-,@+<B! $#9! (,==9-9<A9! (9-,J9(! SK! $#9! D`F! ;:<,%?E:$,+<! A+?E(!<+$!S9! @+E9EK!
:$$-,S?$:SE9!$+!$#9!(,==9-9<A9@!:;+<.!%:-$,A,%:<$@*!
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9E,A,$9(! 9:-EK! :<(! E:$9! <9.:$,J,$,9@! A+;%:-9(! R,$#!$#9,-! A+<$-+E! @9<$9<A9@! =+-!$#9! E+<.!D`F! A+<(,$,+<B!
R#9-9:@!@?A#!<9.:$,J,$,9@!+<EK!:%%9:-9(!,<!$#9!E:$9!$,;9!R,<(+R!=+-!$#9!@#+-$!D`F!A+<(,$,+<*! !
!
4.)Discussion)
4.1.)Early)AN)effect)
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!
17!
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References)
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Cognitive(Neuroscience,(11U4VB!1"2"t1"5/*!
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development(of(languageB!134t261B!W9R!l+-H&!P,E9K!:<(!D+<@*! !
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... When the prediction of aspectual information was in disagreement with the temporal context, early negativity would be elicited. Similar results were found in a Japanese study by Masatak [24], which showed that an early anterior negative was elicited only when there was sufficient time for prediction. (10) * Every Tuesday, John is swimming in the pool. ...
... This was due to syntactic structure repair. Similarly, Masatak [24] also observed a late AN, and the results showed that it reflected the reinterpretation process of aspect. ...
... This was different from the conclusions of Zhang and Zhang [14] and Qiu and Zhou [15] who did not find that aspect markers elicited the N400-like. According to Masatak [24], only when the participants made a prediction that was wrong, would the early AN but not N400-like occur in 300-500 ms time window. In the present study, the N400-like indicated that the participants had a process of semantic processing. ...
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This is a study of the collocation of Chinese verbs with different lexical aspects and aspect markers. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we explored the processing of aspect violation sentences. In the experiment, we combined verbs of various lexical aspect types with the progressive aspect marker zhe, and the combination of the achievement verbs and the progressive aspect marker zhe constituted the sentence’s aspect violation. The participants needed to judge whether a sentence was correct after it was presented. Finally, we observed and analyzed the components of ERPs. The results suggest that when the collocation of aspect markers and lexical aspect is ungrammatical, the N400-like and P600 are elicited on aspect markers, while the late AN is elicited by the word after the aspect marker. P600 and N400-like show that the collocation of Chinese verbs with various lexical aspects and aspect markers involve not only syntactic processing, but also the semantic processing; and the late AN may have been due to the syntax revision and the conclusion at the end of sentences.
... In a recent study, Yano (2018) takes this latter observation as motivation for his ERP experiment on additive and substractive aspectual coercion in Japanese. The hypothesis tested in his study was that the LAN observed in the previous studies actually consists of two subcomponents reflecting distinct cognitive functions: the earlier LAN is enhanced due to a prediction error pertaining to aspectual information, whereas the later LAN reflects some phases of the reinterpretation (p. ...
... 721). The reason why the earlier LAN was not detected in Bott's (2010) study on aspectual coercion in German and it did not reach statistical significance in Paczynski, Jackendoff, and Kuperberg 2014 is that the predictive mechanisms underlying it are only detectable when there is enough time for the prediction to arise, as Yano (2018) proved by manipulated the Stimulus Onset Asynchrony (SOA) and keeping the same experimental material. More precisely, in the long SOA condition, each phrase was presented for 700 ms with an inter-stimulus interval (ISI) of 100 ms, whereas in the short SOA condition, each phrase was presented for 400 ms with a 100 ms ISI (p. ...
... If the resolution of the underspecification of imperfective aspect involves a kind of repair mechanism relying on working memory, comparable to that discussed in the literature for German and English, a late sustained negativity (a working memory LAN) is expected or a combination of an early and a late anterior negativity, as argued for by Yano (2018). ...
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The present paper reports two ERP experiments in Polish that examined the processing of mismatches between perfective and imperfective verbs and temporal modifiers, which preceded the VP (Experiment 1) and followed it (Experiment 2). The mismatch between perfective verb and a preceding durative adverbial elicited an N400 on the object. No ERP effect was found for the analogous mismatch between imperfective verbs and a preceding time-span adverbial. The mismatching temporal adverbial elicited an early positivity (potentially an early P600) when it followed a per-fective VP and a LAN when it followed an imperfective VP. The results suggest that: (i) the domain of aspectual interpretation in Polish is a VP; (ii) mismatches with perfec-tive and imperfective verbs are resolved differently depending on the degree of their semantic specificity (only semantically underspecified imperfective verbs can be easily adjusted to the requirements of the preceding context); (iii) the position of the temporal adverbial plays a role in that a preverbal adverbial sets up a frame within which the eventuality should be interpreted and the aspectual value computed on AspP can be potentially adjusted to it (semantic integration reflected in N400), whereas a post-verbal adverbial must agree with the aspectual value already computed on AspP (syn-tactic integration reflected in an early positivity or a LAN).
... There are grounds to think that the proposed solution can be tested experimentally, see investigations of similar phenomena in (Bott, 2008;Bott, 2010;Bott, Gattnar, 2015;Bott, 2017;Brennan, Pylkkänen, 2008;Paczynski et al., 2010;Paczynski et al., 2014;Piñango et al., 2006;Yano, 2017;Klimek-Jankowska et al., 2018). Thus, experiments carried on English equivalents of the verbs considered and other socalled semelfactives show that there are significant differences in their neural processing that depend on whether the verb appears in "punctive", "explicitly iterative", or "durative" context, see, e.g., (Paczynski et al., 2010). ...
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The present volume offers thirteen papers on categories and units in language, linguistics, language pedagogy and literature. The scope of the monograph is wide. However, it has been the editor’s goal to shed light on different categories and units from the smallest building block of linguistic structure, the phoneme, to morphology and grammar, discourse, psychological, social phenomena as well as language teaching and testing oral skills. The monograph is addressed to students as well as anybody wishing to learn about how language categories can be discussed. OPEN ACCESS https://wydawnictwo.uni.lodz.pl/produkt/categories-and-units-in-language-and-linguistics/
... She explained this finding by suggesting that when the processing system had sufficient time to compute a prediction, the expected word was activated in advance of the actual input, producing a processing advantage once it was presented. Similarly, Yano (2017) observed an AN for an aspectually non-preferred sentence ( aspectual coercion) only when the time interval between a temporal adverbial triggering aspectual prediction and sentence-final verb was long. Taken together, negativities appearing at approximately 300-500 ms post-stimulus onset are modulated by consequences of predictive processing error. ...
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Several recent event-related potential (ERP) studies have observed a left (anterior) negativity (L(A)N) in (morpho)syntactically well-formed but semantically anomalous sentences, which are often referred to as semantic reversal anomalies (e.g., The window closes someone). Such a L(A)N elicitation for semantic reversal anomalies is not expected under the widely held assumption that LANs are associated with morphosyntactic processing loads and are insensitive to semantic anomalies. This raises the empirical question of why semantic reversal anomalies elicit a L(A)N effect. One possible explanation for this observation can be presented in relation the multi-stream processing model, according to which the independent semantic processing stream challenges an analysis outputted by the morphosyntactic processing stream, leading to a misperception of morphosyntactic ill-formedness. Alternatively, the L(A)N effect may reflect a mismatch between expected and actual syntactic structures. As an inanimate subject can trigger the expectation of an intransitive structure rather than an active transitive structure, the input of a transitive verb should violate such an expectation. The present study tests these two hypotheses by manipulating the temporal predictabilities of verb types to examine the underlying cognitive processes of L(A)N effects in semantic reversal anomalies. The results reveal a L(A)N effect for semantic reversal anomalies only when prediction of a verb type was possible, in favour of the latter prediction-based view. The implications of this finding are discussed with respect to predictive processing mechanisms and the architecture of processing systems.
Article
Research in psycholinguistics and in the cognitive neuroscience of language has suggested that semantic and syntactic processing are associated with different neurophysiologic correlates, such as the N400 and the P600 in the ERPs. However, only a handful of studies have investigated the neural basis of the syntax-semantics interface, and even fewer experiments have dealt with the cases in which semantic composition can proceed independently of the syntax. Here we looked into one such case-complement coercion--using ERPs. We compared sentences such as, "The journalist wrote the article" with "The journalist began the article." The second sentence seems to involve a silent semantic element, which is expressed in the first sentence by the head of the verb phrase (VP) "wrote the article." The second type of construction may therefore require the reader to infer or recover from memory a richer event sense of the VP "began the article," such as began writing the article, and to integrate that into a semantic representation of the sentence. This operation is referred to as "complement coercion." Consistently with earlier reading time, eye tracking, and MEG studies, we found traces of such additional computations in the ERPs: Coercion gives rise to a long-lasting negative shift, which differs at least in duration from a standard N400 effect. Issues regarding the nature of the computation involved are discussed in the light of a neurocognitive model of language processing and a formal semantic analysis of coercion.
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Previous work has shown that the N400 ERP component is elicited by all words, whether presented in isolation or in structured contexts, and that its amplitude is modulated by semantic association and contextual predictability. What is less clear is the extent to which the N400 response is modulated by semantic incongruity when predictability is held constant. In the current study we examine N400 modulation associated with independent manipulations of predictability and congruity in an adjective-noun paradigm that allows us to precisely control predictability through corpus counts. Our results demonstrate small N400 effects of semantic congruity ('yellow bag' vs. 'innocent bag'), and much more robust N400 effects of predictability ('runny nose' vs. 'dainty nose') under the same conditions. These data argue against unitary N400 theories according to which N400 effects of both predictability and incongruity reflect a common process such as degree of integration difficulty, as large N400 effects of predictability were observed in the absence of large N400 effects of incongruity. However, the data are consistent with some versions of unitary ‘facilitated access’ N400 theories, as well as multiple-generator accounts according to which the N400 can be independently modulated by facilitated conceptual/lexical access (as with predictability) and integration difficulty (as with incongruity, perhaps to a greater extent in full sentential contexts).
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The present study investigates the cross-linguistic processing of aspect in English and German. Three self-paced reading experiments provide evidence that coercion of a (simple) past accomplishment into an activity reading causes processing difficulty in English (Experiment 1), but not in German (Experiments 2 and 3). We attribute this cross-linguistic difference to immediate aspectual specification in English, whereas we find delayed aspectual specification in German.
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While working on this project I have received institutional support of several kinds, for which I am most grateful. I thank the Institute for Advanced Study at Stanford University, and the Spencer Foundation. for a stimulating environment in which the basic idea of this book was developed. The Max Planck Institute for Psycho linguistics at Nijmegen enabled me to spend several months working on the the manuscript. A National Science Foundation grant to develop Discourse Representation Theory, and a grant from The University Research Institute of the University of Texas, also gave me time to pursue this project. I thank Helen Aristar-Dry for reading early drafts of the manuscript, Osten Dahl for penetrating remarks on a preliminary version, and my collaborator Gilbert Rappaport for relentless comments and questions throughout. People with whom I have worked on particular languages are mentioned in the relevant chapters. lowe a special debt of gratitude to the members of my graduate seminar on aspect in the spring of 1990: they raised many questions of importance which made a real differ­ ence to the final form of the theory. I have benefitted from presenting parts of this material publicly, including colloquia at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, the University of Texas, and University of Tel Aviv. I thank Adrienne Diehr and Marjorie Troutner for their efficient and good-humored help throughout the work on the first edition.
Article
In our target article [Chow, W., Smith, C., Lau, E., & Phillips, C. (2015). A “bag-of-arguments” mechanism for initial verb predictions. Language, Cognition & Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2015.1066832], we investigated the predictions that comprehenders initially make about an upcoming verb as they read and provided evidence that they are sensitive to the arguments’ lexical meaning but not their structural roles. Here we synthesise findings from our work with other studies that show that verb predictions are sensitive to the arguments’ roles if more time is available for prediction. We content that prediction involves computations that may require differing amounts of time. Further, we argue that prediction can be usefully framed as a memory retrieval problem, linking prediction to independently well-understood memory mechanisms in language processing. We suggest that the delayed impact of argument roles on verb predictions may reflect a mismatch between the format of linguistic cues and target event memories. We clarify points of agreement and disagreement with the commentaries, and explain why memory access mechanisms can account for the time course of prediction.