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Electroencephalographic (EEG) signals can reveal the cost required to deal with information structure mismatches in speech or in text contexts. The present study investigates the costs related to the processing of different associations between the syntactic categories of Noun and Verb and the information categories of Topic and Focus. It is hypothesized that – due to the very nature (respectively, predicative and non-predicative) of verbal and nominal reference – sentences with Topics realized by verbs, and Focuses realized by nouns, should impose greater processing demands, compared to the decoding of nominal Topics and verbal Focuses. Data from event-related potential (ERP) measurements revealed an N400 effect in response to both nouns encoded as Focus and verbs packaged as Topic, confirming that the cost associated with information structure processing follows discourse-driven expectations also with respect to the word-class level.
Guided by developmental psychopathology and dual-risk frameworks, the present study examined the interplay between childhood maltreatment and maternal major depression history in relation to neural reward responsiveness in youth. The sample consisted of 96 youth (ages 9–16; M = 12.29 years, SD = 2.20; 68.8% female) drawn from a large metropolitan city. Youth were recruited based on whether their mothers had a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) and were categorized into two groups: youth with mothers with a history of MDD (high risk; HR; n = 56) and youth with mothers with no history of psychiatric disorders (low risk; LR; n = 40). The reward positivity (RewP), an event-related potential component, was utilized to measure reward responsiveness and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire measured childhood maltreatment. We found a significant two-way interaction between childhood maltreatment and risk group in relation to RewP. Simple slope analysis revealed that in the HR group, greater childhood maltreatment was significantly associated with reduced RewP. The relationship between childhood maltreatment and RewP was not significant among the LR youth. The present findings demonstrate that the association between childhood maltreatment and blunted reward responsiveness is dependent on whether offspring have mothers with histories of MDD.
In two experiments, we examine how proficient second language speakers integrate verb bias and plausibility information during online sentence comprehension. Spanish–English speakers and native English speakers read sentences in English in which a post-verbal noun phrase (NP) could be interpreted as a direct object or a sentential subject. To examine the role of verb bias, the post-verbal NP was preceded by a verb that is preferentially followed by a direct object (DO-bias verbs) or a sentential complement (SC-bias verbs). To assess the role of plausibility, the semantic fit between the verb and the post-verbal NP was either congruent or incongruent with the direct object interpretation. The results show that both second language speakers and native speakers used verb bias information to assign a grammatical role to the post-verbal ambiguous NP with small differences. Syntactic revision of an initially incorrect DO interpretation was facilitated by the presence of an implausible NP.
It has been reported that speakers of Danish understand more Swedish than vice versa. One reason for this asymmetry might be that spoken Swedish is closer to written Danish than vice versa. We hypothesise that literate speakers of Danish use their orthographic knowledge of Danish to decode spoken Swedish. To test this hypothesis, first-language (L1) Danish speakers were confronted with spoken Swedish in a translation task. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were elicited to study the online brain responses during decoding operations. Results showed that ERPs to words whose Swedish pronunciation was inconsistent with the Danish spelling were significantly more negative-going than ERPs to words whose Swedish pronunciation was consistent with the Danish spelling between 750 ms and 900 ms after stimulus onset. Together with higher word-recognition scores for consistent items, our data provide strong evidence that online activation of L1 orthography enhances word recognition of spoken Swedish in literate speakers of Danish.
Patients with schizophrenia and individuals with schizotypy, a subclinical group at risk for schizophrenia, have been found to have impairments in cognitive control. The Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive Control (DMC) framework hypothesises that cognitive control can be divided into proactive and reactive control. However, it is unclear whether individuals with schizotypy have differential behavioural impairments and neural correlates underlying these two types of cognitive control.
Twenty-five individuals with schizotypy and 26 matched healthy controls (HCs) completed both reactive and proactive control tasks with electroencephalographic data recorded. The proportion of congruent and incongruent trials was manipulated in a classic colour-word Stroop task to induce proactive or reactive control. Proactive control was induced in a context with mostly incongruent (MI) trials and reactive control in a context with mostly congruent (MC) trials. Two event-related potential (ERP) components, medial frontal negativity (MFN, associated with conflict detection) and conflict sustained potential (conflict SP, associated with conflict resolution) were examined.
There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of behavioural results. In terms of ERP results, in the MC context, HC exhibited significantly larger MFN (360–530 ms) and conflict SP (600–1000 ms) amplitudes than individuals with schizotypy. The two groups did not show any significant difference in MFN or conflict SP in the MI context.
The present findings provide initial evidence for dissociation of neural activation between proactive and reactive cognitive control in individuals with schizotypy. These findings help us understand cognitive control deficits in the schizophrenia spectrum.
Speech perception involves both conceptual cues and perceptual cues. These, individually, have been shown to guide bilinguals’ speech perception; but their potential interaction has been ignored. Explicitly, bilinguals have been given perceptual cues that could be predicted by the conceptual cues. Therefore, to target the perceptual-conceptual interaction, we created a restricted range of perceptual cues that either matched, or mismatched, bilinguals’ conceptual predictions based on the language context. Specifically, we designed an active speech perception task that concurrently collected electrophysiological data from Spanish–English bilinguals and English monolinguals to address the extent to which this cue interaction uniquely affects bilinguals’ speech sound perception and allocation of attentional resources. Bilinguals’ larger MMN-N2b in the mismatched context aligns with the Predictive Coding Hypothesis to suggest that bilinguals use their diverse perceptual routines to best allocate cognitive resources to perceive speech.
Evidence from pre-clinical infrahuman investigations, open-label clinical trials, and a single controlled trial found acute nicotine treatment potentiated up to 4 weeks neuroleptic-induced reductions of dyskinetic symptoms characterizing Tourette’s syndrome (TS). Given the attentional disturbances associated with this syndrome, and the improvements in attentional processes reported with nicotine, this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the acute (4 h) and sustained (2 weeks) effects of a single dose of transdermal nicotine on clinical (i.e., tics), attentional (continuous performance task, event-related potentials, patient and parental reports) and behavioral symptoms in 23 children and adolescents with TS receiving neuroleptic treatment. In the 14 evaluable patients with complete primary efficacy data, nicotine (compared to placebo) failed to alter symptoms at 4 h but counteracted ERP-P300 signs of diminished attention seen 2 weeks following placebo treatment. Secondary efficacy measures, including patient self-reports and parental ratings, found nicotine to reduce complex tics and improve behaviors related to inattention. Additional work with intermittent dosing schedules is required to characterize optimal clinical and cognitive effects with nicotine treatment.
Over the past 15 years, researchers have shown an increasing interest in using event-related potentials (ERPs) to study depression. These studies generally fall into four classes: 1), ERPs as a means of detecting depression; 2), ERPs as a tool for distinguishing subtypes of depression; 3), ERPs as a measure of pharmacological effectiveness; 4), ERPs as indicators of defective cognitive operations in depressed subjects. Results from these heterogeneous approaches are often inconsistent and disappointing. Although some ERP components often show increased latencies and diminished amplitudes, these changes seem to reflect principally a variety of non-specific disorders affecting a wide range of cognitive functions rather than a precise and consistent deficit of a particular function. These disappointing results seem to be attributable to methodological problems (heterogeneous patient populations, disproportionate use of the odd-ball paradigm), and do not necessarily call into question the value of studying the ERPs. Furthermore, recent advances in ERP methodology have opened up new perspectives for ERP use in psychopathology.
Zolpidem is a GABA (A) agonist, which is indicated for the short-term management of insomnia. Recent research provide evidence suggesting that zolpidem produces spatial working memory (WM) deficits and dependence; however, the underlying mechanisms of these effects are unknown. Since the auditory N400 component of event-related potentials (ERPS) is considered as an index of memory use of context processing, the present study focused on N400 waveform of ERPs elicited during a WM task in a case suffering from zolpidem dependence. The patterns of N400 waveform of this case were compared to the patterns obtained from healthy controls. This comparison revealed that zolpidem dependence is accompanied by reduced amplitudes located at posterior brain areas and diffuse prolongation of N400. These findings may indicate that zolpidem dependence manifests alterations with regard to the memory use of context processing, involving or affecting a wide-ranging network of the brain's structures.
Empathy is crucial for maintaining effective social interactions. Research has identified both an early-emotional sharing and a late-cognitive component of empathy. Although considered a functionally vital social cognition process, empathy has scarcely been studied in schizophrenia (SZ). We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to study the temporal dynamics of empathic response in 19 patients with SZ and 18 matched healthy controls (HC) using an empathy for physical pain paradigm. Participants responded to pictures of hands in neutral and painful situations in an active empathic condition and one manipulated by task demands. Additionally, subjective ratings of the stimuli and empathic self-reports were collected. People with SZ had (1) decreased early-emotional ERP responses to pictures of others in pain; (2) decreased modulation by attention of late-cognitive ERP responses; (3) lower ratings of perspective taking and higher ratings of personal distress which were both related to decreased modulation of late-cognitive empathic responses; (4) a significant relationship between high affective overlap between somebody else's pain and their own pain and decreased modulation of late-cognitive empathic responses; (5) a distinct relationship between regulatory deficits in late-cognitive empathy and functioning. Patients had present but reduced early and late empathy-related ERPs. Patients also reported increased personal distress when faced with distress in others. The late ERP responses are thought to be associated with self-regulation and response modulation. The magnitude of these late responses was inversely associated with reported levels of personal distress in both patients and controls. Additionally, regulatory deficits in cognitive empathy were highly related with deficits in functioning. Decreased ability to regulate one's own emotional engagement and response to emotions of others may be an important source of distress and dysfunction in social situations for patients with schizophrenia.
Multiple studies have found a reduced reward positivity (RewP) among individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Event-related potential studies have also reported blunted neural responses to pleasant pictures in MDD as reflected by the late positive potential (LPP). These deficits have been interpreted broadly in terms of anhedonia and decreased emotional engagement characteristic of depression.
In the current study, a community-based sample of 83 participants with current MDD and 45 healthy individuals performed both a guessing task and a picture viewing paradigm with neutral and pleasant pictures to assess the RewP and the LPP, respectively.
We found that both RewP and LPP to pleasant pictures were reduced in the MDD group; moreover, RewP and LPP were both independent predictors of MDD status. Within the MDD group, a smaller RewP predicted impaired mood reactivity in younger but not older participants. Smaller LPP amplitudes were associated with increased anhedonia severity in the MDD group.
These data replicate and merge separate previous lines of research, and suggest that a blunted RewP and LPP reflect independent neural deficits in MDD – which could be used in conjunction to improve the classification of depression.
We examine first language (L1) attrition among 30 L1 Spanish – L2 English speakers living in the United Kingdom. We also tested 30 recently-arrived Spaniards to the UK as a baseline. We present several key findings: 1) attrition fluctuates over time and does not affect all individuals equally; 2) entropy can explain said fluctuation of attritional affects over time such that while length of residence and age of arrival may affect the depth of attrition, how often one is exposed to her native language, how often she uses it and for how long each day, who her friends are, and to which types of input she is regularly exposed, seemingly aid in the maintenance or loss of linguistic knowledge; 3) though offline scalar interpretations among bilinguals were predicted by canonical sociolinguistic variables, the online data revealed an overall insensitivity to pragmatic violations. Thus, offline and online methods combine to be more explanatory regarding the comprehension and processing of implicature generating quantifiers.
Previous research examining whether bilinguals exhibit enhanced working memory (WM) compared to monolinguals has yielded mixed results. This inconsistency may be due to lack of sensitivity in behavioral and neuropsychological measures. The current study aimed to investigate the effects of bilingualism on WM by focusing on brain activity patterns (event-related potentials) in monolinguals and bilinguals during a WM task. We recorded brain activity while participants (26 monolingual English speakers and 28 English–French bilinguals) performed a delayed matching-to-sample task. Although performance measures were similar, electrophysiological differences were present across groups. Bilinguals exhibited larger P3b amplitudes than monolinguals, and smaller negative slow wave and N2b amplitudes during retrieval. These results suggest that bilinguals may have more cognitive resources available in WM to allocate to task completion, and that task completion may be less effortful for bilinguals than for monolinguals.
Artificial linguistic systems can offer researchers test tube-like models of second language (L2) acquisition through which specific questions can be examined under tightly controlled conditions. This paper examines what research with artificial linguistic systems has revealed about the neural mechanisms involved in L2 grammar learning. It first considers the validity of meaningful and non-meaningful artificial linguistic systems. Then it contextualizes and synthesizes neural artificial linguistic system research related to questions about age of exposure to the L2, type of exposure, and online L2 learning mechanisms. Overall, using artificial linguistic systems seems to be an effective and productive way of developing knowledge about L2 neural processes and correlates. With further validation, artificial linguistic system paradigms may prove an important tool more generally in understanding how individuals learn new linguistic systems as they become bilingual.
Little is known about the effect of natural disasters on children's neural development. Additionally, despite evidence that stress and parenting may both influence the development of neural systems underlying reward and threat processing, few studies have brought together these areas of research. The current investigation examined the effect of parenting styles and hurricane-related stress on the development of neural reactivity to reward and threat in children. Approximately 8 months before and 9 months after Hurricane Sandy, 74 children experiencing high and low levels of hurricane-related stress completed tasks that elicited the reward positivity and error-related negativity, event-related potentials indexing sensitivity to reward and threat, respectively. At the post-Hurricane assessment, children completed a self-report questionnaire to measure promotion- and prevention-focused parenting styles. Among children exposed to high levels of hurricane-related stress, lower levels of promotion-focused, but not prevention-focused, parenting were associated with a reduced post-Sandy reward positivity. In addition, in children with high stress exposure, greater prevention-focused, but not promotion-focused, parenting was associated with a larger error-related negativity after Hurricane Sandy. These findings highlight the need to consider contextual variables such as parenting when examining how exposure to stress alters the development of neural reactivity to reward and threat in children.
This study examines possible crosslinguistic influence on basic word order processing in a second language (L2). Targeting Swedish V2 word order we investigate adult German learners (+V2 in the L1) and English learners (-V2 in the L1) of Swedish who are matched for proficiency. We report results from two offline behavioural tasks (written production, metalinguistic judgements), and online processing as measured by event-related potentials (ERPs). All groups showed sensitivity to word order violations behaviourally and neurocognitively. Behaviourally, the learners differed from the native speakers only on judgements. Crucially, they did not differ from each other. Neurocognitively, all groups showed a similar increased centro-parietal P600 ERP-effect, but German learners (+V2) displayed more nativelike anterior ERP-effects than English learners (-V2). The results suggest crosslinguistic influence in that the presence of a similar word order in the L1 can facilitate online processing in an L2 – even if no offline behavioural effects are discerned.
Bilingualism has been found to enhance the ability to store and manipulate information in working memory (WM). However, previous studies of WM function in bilingualism have been limited to behavioural measures, leaving questions unanswered regarding the effects of bilingualism on neural mechanisms employed during WM tasks. We recorded brain activity (event-related potentials; ERPs) while participants (23 English-speaking and 21 English–French bilinguals) performed an n-back WM task. Accuracy and reaction time were similar across groups, but monolinguals exhibited smaller P300 amplitudes relative to bilinguals, suggesting that bilinguals have more cognitive resources available to complete cognitively demanding tasks.
Objectives: Concussions affect the processing of emotional stimuli. This study aimed to investigate how sex interacts with concussion effects on early event-related brain potentials (ERP) measures (P1, N1) of emotional facial expressions (EFE) processing in asymptomatic, multi-concussion athletes during an EFE identification task. Methods: Forty control athletes (20 females and 20 males) and 43 multi-concussed athletes (22 females and 21 males), recruited more than 3 months after their last concussion, were tested. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory II, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, and an Emotional Facial Expression Identification Task. Pictures of male and female faces expressing neutral, angry, and happy emotions were randomly presented and the emotion depicted had to be identified as fast as possible during EEG acquisition. Results: Relative to controls, concussed athletes of both sex exhibited a significant suppression of P1 amplitude recorded from the dominant right hemisphere while performing the emotional face expression identification task. The present study also highlighted a sex-specific suppression of the N1 component amplitude after concussion which affected male athletes. Conclusions: These findings suggest that repeated concussions alter the typical pattern of right-hemisphere response dominance to EFE in early stages of EFE processing and that the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the processing of emotional stimuli are distinctively affected across sex. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1–11)
We investigated the extent to which second-language (L2) learning is influenced by the similarity of grammatical features in one's first language (L1). We used event-related potentials to identify neural signatures of a novel grammatical rule – grammatical gender – in L1 English speakers. Of interest was whether individual differences in L2 proficiency and age of acquisition (AoA) influenced these effects. L2 and native speakers of French read French sentences that were grammatically correct, or contained either a grammatical gender or word order violation. Proficiency and AoA predicted Left Anterior Negativity amplitude, with structure violations driving the proficiency effect and gender violations driving the AoA effect. Proficiency, group, and AoA predicted P600 amplitude for gender violations but not structure violations. Different effects of grammatical gender and structure violations indicate that L2 speakers engage novel grammatical processes differently from L1 speakers and that this varies appreciably based on both AoA and proficiency.
Aberrant reward mechanisms with regard to slim body shapes are discussed in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN). The aim of the present study was to examine of cue reactivity toward body shapes in AN via the late positive potential (LPP), an event-related electroencephalography (EEG) component. By including adolescents and adults, aspects of development and chronification could be studied (2 × 2 design).
Thirty-two female AN patients (19 adolescents and 13 adults) and 37 control participants (16 adolescents and 21 adults) were included. Standardized photographic stimuli showing women's bodies in underwear from five body mass index (BMI) categories (extremely underweight to extremely overweight) were presented. During picture evaluation, EEG activity was recorded (10–20 system). The LPP was measured in two time windows characterized by different topographies (450–700 ms: posterior; 1000–1300 ms: central).
Regarding the posterior component, LPP amplitudes were clearly reduced in adult but not in adolescent patients; for both time windows the LPP showed differential patterns over BMI categories for patients and controls. Regarding the central component, a highly significant linear decrease from extremely underweight to extremely overweight body shapes was revealed in patients and no significant modulation in control participants.
Adolescent and adult patients show increased sustained attention toward extremely underweight bodies. In chronically ill patients, this bias appears to be accompanied by generally reduced automatic attention. The LPP findings provide a differentiated picture of aberrant cue reactivity which could be interpreted as motivated attention toward body shapes in AN.