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Journal Article

Animacy modulates gender agreement comprehension in Hindi: An ERP study


Muralikrishnan,  R.
Scientific Services, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bhattamishra, S., Muralikrishnan, R., & Choudhary, K. K. (2022). Animacy modulates gender agreement comprehension in Hindi: An ERP study. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 37(5), 560-575. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1980219.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-5B51-6
The animate–inanimate distinction is of crucial importance cognitively, and animacy has been known to influence language comprehension. However, little is known about the role of animacy in verb agreement processing. The present study employed event-related brain potentials to examine whether the gender agreement of the verb with animate (natural gender) and inanimate (grammatical gender) subject nouns reveal similar or different processing mechanisms in Hindi. Critical stimuli were intransitive sentences of the form subject–verb–aux. Subject nouns were either animate or inanimate, and the verb either showed correct gender agreement or violated it. The violation of gender agreement with animate subjects evoked a P600 effect, whereas gender agreement violation with inanimate subjects revealed a long-latency N400-like effect. The result suggests that different underlying mechanisms are involved in the computation of gender agreement with animate and inanimate arguments in Hindi, illustrating the crucial role that animacy plays in verb agreement processing.