LINGUIST List 25.2578

Mon Jun 16 2014

Diss: Cognitive Science, Neuroling, Psycholing: Brouwer: 'The Electrophysiology of Language Comprehension...'

Editor for this issue: Danuta Allen <>

Date: 16-Jun-2014
From: Harm Brouwer <>
Subject: The Electrophysiology of Language Comprehension: A Neurocomputational Model
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Institution: University of Groningen
Program: Alpha-Informatica
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Harm Brouwer

Dissertation Title: The Electrophysiology of Language Comprehension: A Neurocomputational Model

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director:
John Nerbonne
John C.J. Hoeks

Dissertation Abstract:

One decade ago, researchers using event-related brain potential (ERP) measurements stumbled upon what looked like a 'Semantic Illusion' in language comprehension: Semantically anomalous, but otherwise well- formed sentences did not affect the 'meaning-related' N400 component, but instead increased the amplitude of the 'structure-related' P600 component. This finding spawned five new models of language comprehension, which claim that language is processed in two or even more separate processing streams, at least one of which is not driven by structure, but by word meaning alone. In this thesis, I argue instead that language is processed in a single stream, where N400 amplitude reflects lexical retrieval, and P600 amplitude reflects semantic integration. I present evidence from neurocomputational simulations showing that this alternative, and most parsimonious explanation is able to predict the relevant ERP patterns found in the literature.

Page Updated: 16-Jun-2014