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Journal Article

Processing polarity items: contrastive licensing costs


Frisch,  Stefan
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Saddy, D., Drenhaus, H., & Frisch, S. (2004). Processing polarity items: contrastive licensing costs. Brain and Language, 90(1-3), 495-502. doi:10.1016/S0093-934X(03)00470-X.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-D2C1-A
We describe an experiment that investigated the failure to license polarity items in German using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). The results reveal distinct processing reflexes associated with failure to license positive polarity items in comparison to failure to license negative polarity items. Failure to license both negative and positive polarity items elicited an N400 component reflecting semantic integration cost. Failure to license positive polarity items, however, also elicited a P600 component. The additional P600 in the positive polarity violations may reflect higher processing complexity associated with a negative operator. This difference between the two types of violation suggests that the processing of negative and positive polarity items does not involve identical mechanisms.