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Poster D7, Thursday, November 9, 6:15 – 7:30 pm, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

The role of structural repair and presentation modality in (dis)agreement processing in Dutch: An ERP study

Srdan Popov1,2, Roelien Bastiaanse2;1International Doctorate for Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain (IDEALAB), Universities of Groningen (NL), Newcastle (UK), Potsdam (DE), Trento (IT), Macquarie University (AU), 2Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG), University of Groningen, The Netherlands

In this ERP study, conducted in both visual and auditory modality, we compared how DP-internal gender and number disagreement is processed. Theoretically, number and gender disagreement in Dutch differ in three major aspects: 1) number is semantically determined (numerosity), while gender is inherent (lemma); 2) number is morphological (plural suffix) and gender is lexical; 3) number disagreement allows for more repair options. Regarding the last point, number disagreement can be repaired either at the noun (e.g., singular into plural) or the preceding element (e.g., singular article into plural article). In contrast, gender cannot be repaired at the noun, being a lexical feature. Previous studies (e.g., Aleman-Bañón, Fiorentino, & Gabriele, 2012; Barber & Carreiras, 2005) have often reported a biphasic response of LAN and P600 to both kinds of violation. Barber and Carreiras (2005) reported a small increase in the late stage of P600 in gender disagreement compared to number disagreement, demonstrating that the major difference was in the way the violation was repaired. Since Dutch number disagreement is more complex to repair than gender disagreement, the P600 effect was expected to be larger for number. We expected similar results for both visual and auditory presentation modalities (c.f., Hagoort & Brown, 2000). We tested 60 native speakers of Dutch, 30 per modality. Each participant either read or heard 160 experimental sentences, 80 of which contained gender disagreement (e.g., eenSG mooieSG.M/F dorpN – ‘a beautiful village’) and another 80 contained number disagreement (hetSG mooieSG dorpenPL). There were also 80 filler sentences with the purpose of preventing a guessing pattern. EEG Data were recorded with a 64-channel EEG system (ANT Neuro) and pre-processed using the Brain Vision Analyzer 2 (Brain Products). Averaged values (in µV) were extracted per participant, per condition, and per region of interest and analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA separately for reading and listening. Analyses were performed on pre-determined time windows usually associated with the LAN and P600. The P600 component was elicited in both modalities. The effect was significantly larger in number than gender disagreement, with an earlier onset as well. Interestingly, the LAN was elicited only for gender disagreement in the auditory modality. The earlier onset time of the P600 for number disagreement compared to gender disagreement probably reflects the ease of access to the number feature. More precisely, number as an inflectionally coded feature is easier to access than a lexical feature such as gender (Barber & Carreiras, 2005). In line with our prediction, the larger P600 effect reflects a more complex repair mechanism of number disagreement compared to gender disagreement. Finally, the remaining issue is the presence of the LAN in gender condition in auditory modality only. The influence of the presentation modality on the LAN has been reported before (c.f., Hagoort & Brown, 2000). At this point we can only speculate that LAN may be sensitive to different rates at which grammatical information is delivered in different presentation modalities.

Topic Area: Grammar: Syntax

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