Syntactic Parsing Preferences and their On-Line Revisions: A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Event-Related Brain Potentials

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Event-related potentialLanguage processingSyntactic ambiguitySpatio-temporal principal component analysisP600/SPS, P300ERP Sub-component

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The present study investigates the processes involved in the recovery from temporarily ambiguous garden-path sentences. Event-related brain potentials (ERP) were recorded while subjects read German subject–object ambiguous relative and complement clauses. As both clause types are initially analyzed as subject-first structures, object-first structures require a revision which is more difficult for complement than for relative clauses. The hypothesis is tested that the revision process consists of two sub-processes, namely diagnosis and actual reanalysis. Applying a spatio-temporal principal component analysis to the ERP data, distinct positive sub-components presumably reflecting different sub-processes could be identified in the time range of the P300 and P600. It will be argued that the P600 is not a monolithic component, and that different subprocesses may be involved at varying time points depending on the type of garden-path sentence.

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Cognitive Brain Research, v. 11, issue 2, p. 305-323