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Journal Article

Event-related potentials in response to violations of content and temporal event knowledge


Schaadt,  Gesa
Department of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Drummer, J., van der Meer, E., & Schaadt, G. (2016). Event-related potentials in response to violations of content and temporal event knowledge. Neuropsychologia, 80, 47-55. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.11.007.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-1F6C-3
Scripts that store knowledge of everyday events are fundamentally important for managing daily routines. Content event knowledge (i.e., knowledge about which events belong to a script) and temporal event knowledge (i.e., knowledge about the chronological order of events in a script) constitute qualitatively different forms of knowledge. However, there is limited information about each distinct process and the time course involved in accessing content and temporal event knowledge. Therefore, we analyzed event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to either correctly presented event sequences or event sequences that contained a content or temporal error. We found an N400, which was followed by a posteriorly distributed P600 in response to content errors in event sequences. By contrast, we did not find an N400 but an anteriorly distributed P600 in response to temporal errors in event sequences. Thus, the N400 seems to be elicited as a response to a general mismatch between an event and the established event model. We assume that the expectancy violation of content event knowledge, as indicated by the N400, induces the collapse of the established event model, a process indicated by the posterior P600. The expectancy violation of temporal event knowledge is assumed to induce an attempt to reorganize the event model in working memory, a process indicated by the frontal P600.