Neural Bases of Language, Spring 2004

(Electrophysiology of language processing)

Instructor:   Cyma Van Petten, Ph.D.

Time:   Mondays, 2-5 PM

Place:   Psychology 317B

Requirements:   This is a reading-intensive course, because it intends to be a survey of current topics in psycholinguistics, as approached by electrical and magnetic recordings of human brain activity. Doing the reading and coming to class prepared to discuss it is the central requirement. Every week, I'll plan to talk for an hour or somewhat less at the outset.

1) To encourage reading and thinking, your assignment is to write a page or two of commentary every other week (starting Feb 2), which you'll distribute to the rest of the class via e-mail. Half of the class will thus write commentaries each week. A commentary might consist of a logical analysis of the arguments made by an author, introduction of other findings which challenge or support the points made by an author, background questions which you see as critical for digesting the papers, experiments you think should be done, etc. The style/focus of your commentaries will no doubt vary from week to week. Commentaries will be due by midnight the Saturday before class, to give everyone a little time to read them before we meet.

2) The second requirement is one presentation to the class on a topic that would otherwise not be covered. In other words, your fellow students will not have read those papers, and your presentation should concisely summarize the current state of knowledge, disagreements, what is left to be done, etc. Most of the presentations will be individual, and should last about 45 minutes. Two topics have had quite a bit written about them (those for Feb 9 and Feb 23), so that I suggest two people team up to handle them, and take up to 60 minutes. Presentation topics are listed under the class meeting dates, and suggested readings for those topics appear as an addendum to the syllabus. By the end of the first week of class (Jan 30), you should send me an email indicating your first through fourth choices of topic for presentation (topics will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis).

How to get the readings:   All of the regular assigned readings will be available electronically, in PDF format. You will need a computer with a web browser and Adobe Acrobat Reader (free) installed, and some way to print out the articles. If you're struggling with any of these, ask your favorite computer guru, or consult me.

  • In your browser, go to
  • Use the boxes to locate our course
  • Password for the course is    nbl    You may be asked for a password at several points, nbl seems to always work.
  • Regular readings are in folders filed by the class meeting date. Names of the readings are short abbreviations, listed on the syllabus. Note that the syllabus currently has some readings flagged as "Copy and scan" - this is a note to myself that I haven't gotten the PDF file yet. Prior to the relevant class, those will have been scanned, and you'll be able to find them in the online folder.
  • When you go to print out the readings, please note that some have color figures, so that you'll need to find a color printer to handle those. I've flagged some of these on the syllabus, but have probably missed some as well --- so have a quick look at the PDF file on the screen before printing on a black-and-white printer.
  • Readings for class presentations: You will be responsible for finding these yourself. Many are available electronically through Sabio, a few will require trips to the campus or AHSC libraries. As I have time, I will put some of these on the electronic reserve system (in a folder called "present"), but plan on a trip to the library.

NOTE: Typically, the order in which the readings are listed is the best order in which to read them.

January 26. Basics of event-related potentials

1) M Fabiani, G Gratton, & MGH Coles (2000). Event-related brain potentials. In: JT Cacioppo, LG Tassinary, & GG Berntson (Eds), Handbook of Psychophysiology, second edition (pp 53- 84). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.     fabian00.pdf

1) M Kutas & BM Schmitt (2003). Language in microvolts. In MT Banich & M Mack, Mind, Brain, and Language (pp 171-210). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.    kutas03.pdf


February 2    Mismatch Negativity basics and neural bases

1) R Naatanen & K Alho (1997). Mismatch negativity - the measure for central sound representation accuracy. Audiology and Neuro-Otology, 2, 341-353.    naat97a.pdf

2) P Paavilainen, J Simola, M Jaramillo, R Ntnen, & I Winkler (2001). Preattentive extraction of abstract feature conjunctions from auditory stimulation as reflected by the mismatch negativity (MMN). Psychophysiology, 38, 359-365.    paavil01.pdf

3) J Horvath, I Czigler, E Sussman, & I Winkler. (2001) Simultaneously active pre-attentive representations of local and global rules for sound sequences in the human brain. Cognitive Brain Research, 12, 131-144.    horv01.pdf

4) JD Kropotov, R Ntnen, AV Sevostianov, K Alho, K Reinikainen, & OV Kropotova (1995). Mismatch negativity to auditory stimulus change recorded directly from the human temporal cortex. Psychophysiology, 32, 418-422.    kropot95.pdf

5) B Opitz, T Rinne, A Mecklinger, D Yves von Cramon, & E Schrger (2002). Differential contribution of frontal and temporal cortices to auditory change detection: fMRI and ERP results. NeuroImage, 15, 167-174.    opitz02.pdf

February 9    Hemispheric asymmetry in speech perception

1) J Schwartz & P Tallal (1980). Rate of acoustic change may underlie hemispheric specialization for speech perception. Science, 207, 1380-1381.    tallal80.pdf

2) RB Ivry & LC Robertson (1998). Chapter 6: Speech perception and language. From The Two Sides of Perception. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.    ivry98.pdf

3) K Alho, JF Connolly, M Cheour, A Lehtokoski, M Huotilainen, J Virtanen, R Aulanko, RJ Ilmoniemi (1998). Hemispheric lateralization in preattentive processing of speech sounds. Neuroscience Letters, 258, 9-12.    alho98.pdf

4) Y Shtyrov, T Kujala, H Lyytinen, J Kuhala, RJ Ilmoniemi, & R Naatanen (2000). Lateralization of speech processing in the brain as indicated by mismatch negativity and dichotic listening. Brain and Cognition, 43, 392-398.    shtyr00a.pdf

5) Y Shtyrov, T Kuhala, S Palva, RJ Ilmoniemi, & R Naatanen (2000). Discrimination of speech and of complex nonspeech sounds of different temporal structure in the left and right cerebral hemispheres. NeuroImage, 12, 657-663.    shtyr00b.pdf

Student presentation: MMN in developmental language disorders (this should be a team of two folks)

February 16    Categorical perception and the impact of long-term memory on the MMN

1) A Sharma, N Kraus, T McGee, T Carrell, & T Nicol (1993). Acoustic versus phonetic representation of speech as reflected by the mismatch negativity event-related potential. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 88, 64-71. NEED (med lib & scan)

2) R Naatanen, A Lehtokoski, M Lennes, M Cheour, M Huotilainen, A Livonen, M Vainlo, P Alku, RJ Ilmoneimi, A Luuk, J Aillk, J Sinkkonnen, & K Alho. (1997). Language-specific phoneme representations revealed by electric and magnetic brain responses. Nature, 385, 432-434.    naat97b.pdf

3) M Cheour, R Ceponiene, A Lehtokoski, A Luuk, J Allik, K Alho, & R Naatanen (1998). Development of language-specific phoneme representations in the infant brain. Nature Neuroscience, 1, 351-353.    cheour98.pdf

4) I Winkler et al (1999). Pre-attentive detection of vowel contrasts utilizes both phonetic and auditory memory representations. Cognitive Brain Research, 7, 357-369.    winkl99.pdf

5) M Huotilainen, A Kuhala, & P Alku (2001). Long-term memory traces facilitate short-term memory trace formation in humans. Neuroscience Letters, 310, 133-136.    huot01.pdf

6) F Pulvermuller et al (2001). Memory traces for words as revealed by the Mismatch Negativity. NeuroImage, 14, 607-616.    pulv01.pdf

Student presentation: MMN and second language learning

Feb 23    Audio-visual integration in speech and nonspeech

1) GA Calvert (2001). Crossmodal processing in the human brain: Insights from functional neuroimaging studies. Cerebral Cortex, 11, 1110-1123.    calver01.pdf

2) M Sams et al (1991). Seeing speech: Visual information from lip movements modifies activity in the human auditory cortex. Neuroscience Letters, 127, 141-145.    sams91.pdf

3) C Colin, M Radeau, A Soquet, D Demolin, F Colin, & P Deltenre (2002). Mismatch negativity evoked by the McGurk-MacDonald effect: A phonetic representation within short-term memory. Clinical Neurophysiology, 113, 495-506.    colin02a.pdf

4) T Raij, J Uutela, & R Hari (2000). Audiovisual integration of letters in the human brain. Neuron, 28, 617-625.    raij00.pdf

5) C Colin, M Radeau, A Soquet, B Dachy, P Deltenre (2002). Electrophysiology of spatial scene analysis: The mismatch negativity (MMN) is sensitive to the ventriloquism illusion. Clinical Neurophysiology, 113, 507-518.    colin02b.pdf

6) WA Teder-Slejrvi, AA McDonald, TJ Russo, & SA Hillyard (2002). An analysis of audio- visual cross-modal integration by means of event-related brain potential. Cognitive Brain Research, 14, 106-114.    teder02.pdf


March 1    Semantic processing and the N400: Basics and neural bases

1) M Kutas & SA Hillyard (1980). Reading senseless sentences: Brain potentials reflect semantic incongruity. Science, 207, 203-205.    kutas80.pdf

2) M Kutas & SA Hillyard (1984). Brain potentials during reading reflect word expectancy and semantic association. Nature, 307, 161-163.    kutas84.pdf

3) Van Petten, C. (1995). Words and sentences: Event-related brain potential measures. Psychophysiology, 32, 511-525.    cvp95.pdf

4) M Kutas, SA Hillyard, & MS Gazzaniga (1988). Processing of semantic anomaly by right and left hemispheres of commissurotomy patients. Brain, 111, 553-576.    kutas88.pdf

5) AC Nobre, T Allison, & G McCarthy (1994). Word recognition in the human inferior temporal lobe. Nature, 372, 60-63.    nobre94.pdf

6) AC Nobre & G McCarthy (1995). Language-related field potentials in the anterior-medial temporal lobe: II. Effects of word type and semantic priming. Journal of Neuroscience, 15, 1090-1098.    nobre95.pdf

7) E Halgren, R Dhond, N Christensen, C Van Petten, K Marinkovic, JD Lewine, & AM Dale (2002). N400-like MEG responses modulated by semantic context, word frequency, and lexical class in sentences. Neuroimage, 17, 1101-1116.    megn400.pdf [color figures]

Student presentation: Extracting meaning across different modalities of linguistic and nonlinguistic input

March 8    Attention and semantic processing: Levels of selection

1) G McCarthy & AC Nobre (1993). Modulation of semantic processing by spatial selective attention. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 88, 210-219. NEED (library copy for color figs, and scan)

2) MI Kellenbach & PT Michie (1996). Modulation of event-related potentials by semantic priming: Effects of color-cued selective attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 8, 155- 173. NEED (copy & scan)

3) SJ Luck, EK Vogel, & KL Shapiro (1996). Word meanings can be accessed but not reported during the attentional blink. Nature, 383, 616-618. NEED (copy & scan) [color figures]

4) B Rolke, M Heil, J Streb, & E Henninghausen (2001). Missed prime words within the attentional blink evoke an N400 semantic priming effect. Psychophysiology, 38, 165-174.    rolke01.pdf

5) EK Vogel, SJ Luck, & KL Shapiro (1998). Electrophysiological evidence for a postperceptual locus of suppression during the attentional blink. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 24, 1656-1674.    vogel98.pdf

Student presentation: Single-word characteristics: Concreteness, orthographic neighborhood


March 22    Open versus closed class words, and a bit about sign language

1) Van Petten, C., & Kutas, M. (1991). Influences of semantic and syntactic context on open and closed class words. Memory and Cognition, 19, 95-112. NEED (copy & scan)

2) HJ Neville, DL Mills, & DS Lawson (1992). Fractionating language: different neural subsystems with different sensitive periods. Cerebral Cortex, 2, 244-258. NEED (copy & scan)

3) JW King & M Kutas (1998). Neural plasticity in the dynamics of human visual word recognition. Neuroscience Letters, 244, 61-64.    king98.pdf

4) L Osterhout, M Bersick, & R McKinnon (1997). Brain potentials elicited by words: word length and frequency predict the latency of an early negativity. Biological Psychology, 46, 143-168.    oster97.pdf

5) HJ Neville, SA Coffey, DS Lawson, A Fischer, K Emmorey, & E Bellugi (1997). Neural systems mediating American Sign Language: Effects of sensory experience and age of acquisition. Brain and Language, 57, 285-308.    nevill97.pdf

6) TF Munte, BM Wieringa, H Weyerts, A Szentkuti, M Matzke, & S Johannes (2001). Differences in brain potentials to open and closed class words: class and frequency effects. Neuropsychologia, 39, 91-102.    munte01.pdf

Student presentation: Masked semantic and repetition priming

March 29    Lexical ambiguity resolution

1) Van Petten, C. (2002). Lexical ambiguity resolution. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (pp 867-872). London: Macmillan.    lexamb.pdf

2) Van Petten, C., & Kutas, M. (1987). Ambiguous words in context: an event-related potential analysis of the time course of meaning activation. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 188-208. NEED (copy & scan)

3) T Swaab, C Brown, & P Hagoort (2003). Understanding words in sentence contexts: The time course of ambiguity resolution. Brain and Language, 86, 326-343.    swaab03.pdf

4) DJ Chwilla & HHJ Kolk (2003). Event-related potential and reaction time evidence for inhibition between alternate meanings of ambiguous words. Brain and Language, 86, 167-192.    chwill03.pdf

5) TC Gunter, S Wagner, & AD Friederic (2003). Working memory and lexical ambiguity resolution as revealed by ERPs: A difficult case for activation theories. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 15, 643-567.    gunter03.pdf

6) SC Sereno, CC Brewer, & PJ O'Donnell (2003). Context effects in word recognition: Evidence for early interactive processing. Psychological Science, 14, 328-333.    sereno03.pdf [color figures]

Student presentation: Single-word (?) properties: nouns versus verbs


April 5. Word segmentation, prosody

1) JR Saffran, EL Newport, & RN Aslin (1996). Word segmentation: The role of distributional cues. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 606-621.    saff96a.pdf

2) JR Saffran, EL Newport, & RN Aslin (1996). Statistical learning by 8-month-old infants. Science, 274, 1926-1928.    saff96b.pdf

3) LD Sanders & HJ Neville (2003). An ERP study of continuous speech processing. I: Segmentation, semantics, and syntax in native speakers. Cognitive Brain Research, 15, 228- 240.    sand03a.pdf

4) LD Sanders & HJ Neville (2003). An ERP study of continuous speech processing. I: Segmentation, semantics, and syntax in non-native speakers. Cognitive Brain Research, 15, 214-227.    sand03b.pdf

5) LD Sanders, EL Newport, HJ Neville (2002). Segmenting nonsense: An event-related potential index of perceived onsets in continuous speech. Nature Neuroscience, 5, 700-703.    sand02.pdf

6) K Steinhauer, K Alter, & A Friederici (1999). Brain potentials indicate immediate use of prosodic cues in natural speech processing. Nature Neuroscience, 2, 191-196.    stein99.pdf [color figures]

Student presentation: Semantic memory use during language comprehension

April 12    Interface between speech perception and word identification and comprehension

1) AG Samuel (2001). Knowing a word affects the fundamental perception of the sounds within it. Psychological Science, 12, 348-351.    samuel01.pdf

2) D Norris, JM McQueen, & A Cutler (2003). Perceptual learning in speech. Cognitive Psychology, 47, 204-238.    norris03.pdf

3) Van Petten, C., Coulson, S., Rubin, S., Plante, E., & Parks, M. (1999). Timecourse of word identification and semantic integration in spoken language. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25, 394-417.    captive.pdf

Student presentation: N400 development and aging


April 19    Sentence complexity and working memory

1) JW King & M Kutas (1995). Who did what and when? Using word- and clause-level ERPs to monitor working memory usage in reading. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 7, 376-395. NEED (copy & scan)

2) J Weckerly & M Kutas (1999). An electrophysiological analysis of animacy effects in the processing of object relative sentences. Psychophysiology, 36, 559-570.    wecker99.pdf

3) TF Munte, S Schiltz, & M Kutas (1998). When temporal terms belie conceptual order. Nature, 395, 71-73.    munte98.pdf

4) CJ Fiebach, M Schlesewsky, & AD Friederici (2001). Syntactic working memory and the establishment of filler-gap dependencies: Insights from ERPs and fMRI. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 30, 321-338.    fieb01.pdf

Student presentation: Planning speech production

April 26    Syntactic errors and parsing preferences

1) L Osterhout, PJ Holcomb, & DA Swinney (1994). Brain potentials elicited by garden-path sentences: Evidence of the application of verb information during parsing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 786-803.    osterh94.pdf

2) L Osterhout & LA Mobley (1995). Event-related potentials elicited by failure to agree. Journal of Memory and Language, 34, 739-773.    oster95.pdf

3) TF Munte, M Matzke, & S Johannes (1997). Brain activity associated with syntactic incongruencies in words and pseudo-words. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9, 318-329.    munte97.pdf

4) A Hanhe & AD Friederici (1999). Electrophysiological evidence for two steps in syntactic analysis: Early automatic and late controlled processes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 11, 194-205.    hahne99.pdf

5) A Hahne & JD Jescheniak (2001). What's left if the Jabberwock gets the semantics? An ERP investigation into semantic and syntactic processes during auditory sentence comprehension. Cognitive Brain Research, 11, 199-212.    hahne01b.pdf

May 3    More syntax papers, TBA

Student presentation: Word recognition, syntax and second language learning