Language-Related ERP Components

Tamara Y. Swaab, Kerry Ledoux, C. Christine Camblin and Megan A. Boudewyn

in The Oxford Handbook of Event-Related Potential Components

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195374148
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Language-Related ERP Components

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Understanding the processes that permit us to extract meaning from spoken or written linguistic input requires elucidating how, when, and where in the brain sentences and stories, syllables and words are analyzed. Because human language is a cognitive function that is not readily investigated using neuroscience approaches in animal models, this task presents special challenges. In this chapter, we describe how event-related potentials (ERPs) have contributed to the understanding of language processes as they unfold in real-time. We will provide an overview of the many ERPs that have been used in language research, and will discuss the main models of what these ERPs reflect in terms of linguistic and neural processes. In addition, using examples from the literature, we will illustrate how ERPs can be used to study language comprehension, and will also outline methodological issues that are specific to using ERPs in language research.

Keywords: lexical processing; sentence processing; discourse processing; non-literal language; event-related potentials; N400; P600; Nref

Article.  29031 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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