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Syntactic processing is modulated by self-referential information: electrophysiological evidence

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Poster B44 in Poster Session B, Tuesday, October 24, 3:30 - 5:15 pm CEST, Espace Vieux-Port

Tatiana Almeida-Rivera1,2, Miguel Rubianes1,2, Francisco Muñoz1,2, Laura Jiménez-Ortega1,2, Sabela Fondevila1,2, José Sánchez-García2, Pilar Casado1,2, Manuel Martín-Loeches1,2; 1Psychobiology and Methods in Behavioral Sciences Department, Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), Madrid, Spain, 2Center for Human Evolution and Behavior ISCIII-UCM, Madrid, Spain

It has been a matter of debate to what extent syntactic processing is independent of other perceptual and cognitive processes. In this regard, recent studies have suggested that social information can modulate conscious syntactic processing supporting interactive models of syntax. This study aims to investigate whether and how syntactic processing can be affected by masked self-referential information. Thirty-six native Spanish speakers read sentences that could contain morphosyntactic anomalies in the verb, or be correct while a masked name (self, friend, or unknown names) was presented for 16 milliseconds between the noun and the verb. According to the visibility test, participants were unaware of the presentation of the masked name. Language-related components (LAN and P600) appeared for all conditions. However, a larger LAN effect followed by a reduced P600 effect was observed for self-names, compared to the friend and unknown names. These data suggest that both early and late syntactic processing can be modulated by self-referential information due to automatic prioritization mechanisms. Furthermore, this finding is consistent with the classic cocktail party effect, in which the perception of our own name can rapidly capture our resources and bias cognitive processing. Overall, these results support the view that syntactic processing is, at least under certain circumstances, flexible and content dependent.

Topic Areas: Syntax and Combinatorial Semantics, Control, Selection, and Executive Processes

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