Fast syntax in the brain: ERP evidence from the RPVP paradigm


  • Grainger Jonathan


  • ERPs
  • Rapid parallel visual presentation RPVP
  • Grammaticality judgments
  • Fast syntax

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In two ERP experiments participants read four-word sequences presented for 200 ms (RPVP paradigm) and were required to decide whether the word sequences were grammatical or not. In Experiment 1, the word sequence consisted of either a grammatically correct sentence (e.g., "she can sing now") or an ungrammatical scrambled sequence (e.g., "sing can now she"). A reduced N400 effect was obtained in the grammatically correct sequences compared to the ungrammatical sequences. In Experiment 2, the critical comparison was between two types of ungrammatical sequences: transposed-word sequences (e.g., "you that read wrong") and control sequences (e.g., "you that read worry"). An N400 reduction was observed in the transposed-word sequences relative to the control sequences. We interpret these N400 effects as evidence that an elementary syntactic representation can be rapidly constructed on the basis of parallel processing of word identities and their parts-of-speech.

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