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  Animacy-based predictions in language comprehension are robust: Contextual cues modulate but do not nullify them

Muralikrishnan, R., Schlesewsky, M., & Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I. (2015). Animacy-based predictions in language comprehension are robust: Contextual cues modulate but do not nullify them. Brain Research, 1608, 108-137. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.11.046.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-7C4F-A Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-79F3-3
Genre: Journal Article

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 Creators:
Muralikrishnan, Ramasamy1, 2, Author              
Schlesewsky, Matthias3, Author
Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina4, 5, Author
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt, Germany, ou_persistent22              
2Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, Leipzig, DE, ou_634551              
3Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, ou_persistent22              
4Philipps University Marburg, Germany, ou_persistent22              
5University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, ou_persistent22              

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Free keywords: ERPs; Sentence processing; Animacy; Tamil; Actor; Predictive processing; Contextual cues
 Abstract: Couldn׳t a humble coconut hurt a gardener? At least in the first instance, the brain seems to assume that it should not: we perceive inanimate entities such as coconuts as poor event instigators (“Actors”). Ideally, entities causing a change in another entity should be animate and this assumption not only influences event perception but also carries over to language comprehension. We present three auditory event-related brain potential (ERP) studies on the processing of inanimate and animate subjects and objects in simple transitive sentences in Tamil. ERP responses were measured at the second argument (event participant) in all three studies. Experiment 1 employed all possible animacy combinations of Actors and Undergoers (affected participants) in Actor- and Undergoer-initial verb-final orders. Experiments 2 and 3 employed a fairly novel context design that enabled us to compare ERPs evoked by identical auditory material to differing contextual expectations: Experiment 2 focussed on constructions in which an inanimate Actor acts upon an inanimate Undergoer, whereas Experiment 3 examined whether and how a preceding context modulates the prediction for an ideal Actor. Results showed an N400 effect when the prediction for an ideal (animate) Actor following an Undergoer was not met, thus further supporting the cross-linguistically robust nature of animacy preferences. In addition, though specific contextual cues that are indicative of a forthcoming non-ideal Actor may reduce this negativity in comparison to when such cues are not available, they nevertheless do not nullify it, suggesting that animacy-based predictions are stronger than contextual cues in online language comprehension.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2014-11-232015-01-222015-05-22
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.11.046
PMID: 25619551
Other: Epub 2015
 Degree: -

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Title: Brain Research
  Other : Brain Res.
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Amsterdam : Elsevier
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 1608 Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 108 - 137 Identifier: ISSN: 0006-8993
CoNE: /journals/resource/954926250616