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Journal Article

Electrophysiological correlates of basic semantic composition in people with aphasia

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Graessner,  Astrid
Wilhelm Wundt Institute for Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

Duchow,  Caroline
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Zaccarella,  Emiliano       
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friederici,  Angela D.       
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Obrig,  Hellmuth       
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Hartwigsen,  Gesa       
Wilhelm Wundt Institute for Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Graessner_2023.pdf
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Graessner_2023_Suppl.docx
(Supplementary material), 191KB

Citation

Graessner, A., Duchow, C., Zaccarella, E., Friederici, A. D., Obrig, H., & Hartwigsen, G. (2023). Electrophysiological correlates of basic semantic composition in people with aphasia. NeuroImage: Clinical, 40: 103516. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2023.103516.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-BA91-D
Abstract
The neuroanatomical correlates of basic semantic composition have been investigated in previous neuroimaging and lesion studies, but research on the electrophysiology of the involved processes is scarce. A large literature on sentence-level event-related potentials (ERPs) during semantic processing has identified at least two relevant components – the N400 and the P600. Other studies demonstrated that these components are reduced and/or delayed in people with aphasia (PWA). However, it remains to be shown if these findings generalize beyond the sentence level. Specifically, it is an open question if an alteration in ERP responses in PWA can also be observed during basic semantic composition, providing a potential future diagnostic tool.

The present study aimed to elucidate the electrophysiological dynamics of basic semantic composition in a group of post-stroke PWA. We included 20 PWA and 20 age-matched controls (mean age 58 years) and measured ERP responses while they performed a plausibility judgment task on two-word phrases that were either meaningful (“anxious horse”), anomalous (“anxious wood”) or had the noun replaced by a pseudoword (“anxious gufel”).

The N400 effect for anomalous versus meaningful phrases was similar in both groups. In contrast, unlike the control group, PWA did not show an N400 effect between pseudoword and meaningful phrases. Moreover, both groups exhibited a parietal P600 effect towards pseudoword phrases, while PWA showed an additional P600 over frontal electrodes. Finally, PWA showed an inverse correlation between the magnitude of the N400 and P600 effects: PWA exhibiting no or even reversed N400 effects towards anomalous and pseudoword phrases showed a stronger P600 effect. These results may reflect a compensatory mechanism which allows PWA to arrive at the correct interpretation of the phrase. When compositional processing capacities are impaired in the early N400 time-window, PWA may make use of a more elaborate re-analysis process reflected in the P600.