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Dissociable effects of prediction and integration during language comprehension: Evidence from a large-scale study using brain potentials

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Nieuwland,  Mante S.
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh;

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Bartolozzi,  Federica
Psychology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh;

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Heyselaar,  Evelien
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham;

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Huettig,  Falk
Psychology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Nieuwland, M. S., Barr, D. J., Bartolozzi, F., Busch-Moreno, S., Darley, E., Donaldson, D. I., et al. (2020). Dissociable effects of prediction and integration during language comprehension: Evidence from a large-scale study using brain potentials. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375: 20180522. doi:10.1098/rstb.2018.0522.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-C710-B
Abstract
Composing sentence meaning is easier for predictable words than for unpredictable words. Are predictable words genuinely predicted, or simply more plausible and therefore easier to integrate with sentence context? We addressed this persistent and fundamental question using data from a recent, large-scale (N = 334) replication study, by investigating the effects of word predictability and sentence plausibility on the N400, the brain’s electrophysiological index of semantic processing. A spatiotemporally fine-grained mixed-effects multiple regression analysis revealed overlapping effects of predictability and plausibility on the N400, albeit with distinct spatiotemporal profiles. Our results challenge the view that the predictability-dependent N400 reflects the effects of either prediction or integration, and suggest that semantic facilitation of predictable words arises from a cascade of processes that activate and integrate word meaning with context into a sentence-level meaning.