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“Are we still talking about the same thing?" : MEG reveals perspective-taking in interaction in response to pragmatic violations, but not in anticipation

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Bögels,  Sara
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
INTERACT, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Bögels, S., Barr, D., Garrod, S., & Kessler, K. (2013). “Are we still talking about the same thing?": MEG reveals perspective-taking in interaction in response to pragmatic violations, but not in anticipation. Talk presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2013). Berlin, Germany. 2013-07-31 - 2013-08-03.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-595E-1
Abstract
The current study investigates whether "mentalizing", or taking the perspective of your interlocutor, plays an essential and constant role while two people are interacting, or whether it is mostly used in reaction to misunderstandings. This study is the first to use a brainimaging method, MEG, to answer this question. In a first phase of the experiment, MEG participants interacted with a confederate who set naming precedents for certain pictures. In a second phase, these precedents were sometimes broken; a speaker named the same picture in a different way. This could be done by the same speaker, who set the precedent, or by a different speaker. Source analysis of MEG data in the second phase showed that in the 800 milliseconds before the naming, when the picture was already on the screen, episodic memory (e.g., parahippocampal gyrus) and language areas (e.g., temporal areas) were activated, but no mentalizing areas, suggesting that the speaker's naming intentions were not anticipated by the listener on the basis of shared experiences. Mentalizing areas (i.e., temporoparietal junction, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus) only became activated after speakers broke their own precedent, which we interpret as a reaction to the violation of conversational pragmatics.