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Is second best good enough? An EEG study on the effects of word expectancy in sentence comprehension

Frade, S; Pinheiro, AP; Santi, A; Raposo, A; (2022) Is second best good enough? An EEG study on the effects of word expectancy in sentence comprehension. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience , 37 (2) pp. 209-223. 10.1080/23273798.2021.1955140. Green open access

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Abstract

Sentence comprehension can be facilitated when readers anticipate the upcoming word. Notwithstanding, it remains uncertain if only the most expected word is anticipated, as postulated by the serial graded hypothesis, or if all probable words are pre-activated, as proposed by the parallel probabilistic hypothesis. To test these contrasting accounts, we compared the processing of expected and unexpected words with second-best words, i.e. the second most expected word in a sentence. The results, from 30 participants, revealed a graded facilitation effect for the expected words, indexed by the N400 mean amplitude, which was the least negative for the most expected words, intermediate for second-best words, and most negative for unexpected words. The Post-N400 Positivity analysis did not reveal any significant effects. The facilitation effect found for the most expected and second-best words suggests that readers can pre-activate multiple candidates during sentence comprehension.

Type: Article
Title: Is second best good enough? An EEG study on the effects of word expectancy in sentence comprehension
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2021.1955140
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2021.1955140
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Lexical prediction, N400, event-related potentials, sentence comprehension, expectancy effect
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132794
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