Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language

Donostia / San Sebastián, Spain

Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language

Donostia / San Sebastián, Spain
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Silva-Pereyra J.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Silva-Pereyra J.,University of La Laguna | Gutierrez-Sigut E.,University of California at Davis | Carreiras M.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | And 2 more authors.
Psychophysiology | Year: 2012

We report two event-related potentials (ERPs) experiments aimed to investigate the roles played by semantic and syntactic information during pronoun resolution. The first experiment was designed to show that ambiguity of the pronoun (e.g., word class ambiguity) makes an important contribution to the pattern observed in previous ERP studies. As expected, the results showed a different ERP pattern for ambiguous and nonambiguous pronouns. The second experiment analyzed pronoun resolution when gender agreement and animacy were manipulated, using only unambiguous pronouns. Results showed P600 effects at 500 to 700ms and at 700 to 900ms. Amplitude of the second window was significantly greater for animate than for inanimate antecedents. The modulation of the agreement effect by animacy suggests that repair processes after grammatical disagreement detection are influenced by semantics. © 2012 Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Lerner I.,Rutgers University | Lerner I.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Armstrong B.C.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | Frost R.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Memory and Language | Year: 2014

Recent research on the effects of letter transposition in Indo-European Languages has shown that readers are surprisingly tolerant of these manipulations in a range of tasks. This evidence has motivated the development of new computational models of reading that regard flexibility in positional coding to be a core and universal principle of the reading process. Here we argue that such approach does not capture cross-linguistic differences in transposed-letter effects, nor does it explain them. To address this issue, we investigated how a simple domain-general connectionist architecture performs in tasks such as letter-transposition and letter substitution when it had learned to process words in the context of different linguistic environments. The results show that in spite of the neurobiological noise involved in registering letter-position in all languages, flexibility and inflexibility in coding letter order is also shaped by the statistical orthographic properties of words in a language, such as the relative prevalence of anagrams. Our learning model also generated novel predictions for targeted empirical research, demonstrating a clear advantage of learning models for studying visual word recognition. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Bock K.,Urbana University | Carreiras M.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | Carreiras M.,Ikerbasque | Meseguer E.,University of La Laguna
Journal of Memory and Language | Year: 2012

Grammatical agreement makes different demands on speakers of different languages. Being widespread in the languages of the world, the features of agreement systems offer valuable tests of how language affects deep-seated domains of human cognition and categorization. Number agreement is one such domain, with intriguing evidence that typological characteristics of number morphology are associated with differences in sensitivity to number distinctions. The evidence comes from research on language production that points to the morphological richness of languages as enhancing the expression of number distinctions. To critically test this hypothesis, native speakers of a sparse-morphology language (English) were compared with native speakers of a rich-morphology language (Spanish) in their use of semantically and grammatically motivated number agreement. With meaning-matched materials, speakers of both languages displayed significant variations in number agreement due to implicit nuances of number semantics, and the patterns and magnitudes of interaction with grammatical number were the same for both groups. In this important respect, speakers of English and Spanish appear to construe numerosity in similar ways, despite the substantial morphological and syntactic differences in their languages. The results challenge arguments that language variations can shape the apprehension of nonlinguistic number or promote differential expression of number meaning during the production of grammatical agreement. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Muller O.,University of La Laguna | Muller O.,El Rosario University | Dunabeitia J.A.,University of La Laguna | Dunabeitia J.A.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | And 4 more authors.
Psychophysiology | Year: 2010

Words with many orthographic neighbors elicit a larger N400 than words with few orthographic neighbors. This has been interpreted as stronger overall semantic activation due to orthographic neighbors activating their semantic representations. To investigate this claim, we manipulated the number of associates of words (NoA), a variable directly affecting overall semantic activation, and compared this to the ERP effect of the number of orthographic neighbors (N) in a lexical decision task. Words with high NoA and with high N produced a very similar increase of the N400. In addition, a higher N increased the amplitude of the Late Positive Complex. The common N400 effect suggests that N affects semantic activation, like NoA does. The late positive effect specific to N could occur because words with few orthographic neighbors initially elicit little activity in the orthographic system, thereby resembling nonwords, which leads to distinct processing. © 2010 Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Van Der Meij M.,University of La Laguna | Van Der Meij M.,University of Oviedo | Cuetos F.,University of Oviedo | Carreiras M.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | And 3 more authors.
Psychophysiology | Year: 2011

This study analyzed the electrophysiological correlates of language switching in second language learners. Participants were native Spanish speakers classified in two groups according to English proficiency (high and low). Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded while they read English sentences, half of which contained an adjective in Spanish in the middle of the sentence. The ERP results show the time-course of language switch processing for both groups: an initial detection of the switch driven by language-specific orthography (left-occipital N250) followed by costs at the level of the lexico-semantic system (N400), and finally a late updating or reanalysis process (LPC). In the high proficiency group, effects in the N400 time window extended to left anterior electrodes and were followed by larger LPC amplitudes at posterior sites. These differences suggest that proficiency modulates the different processes triggered by language switches. © 2010 Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Lallier M.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | Donnadieu S.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Donnadieu S.,University of Savoy | Valdois S.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2013

It has been suggested that auditory and visual sequential processing deficits contribute to phonological disorders in developmental dyslexia. As an alternative explanation to a phonological deficit as the proximal cause for reading disorders, the visual attention span hypothesis (VA Span) suggests that difficulties in processing visual elements simultaneously lead to dyslexia, regardless of the presence of a phonological disorder. In this study, we assessed whether deficits in processing simultaneously displayed visual or auditory elements is linked to dyslexia associated with a VA Span impairment. Sixteen children with developmental dyslexia and 16 age-matched skilled readers were assessed on visual and auditory search tasks. Participants were asked to detect a target presented simultaneously with 3, 9, or 15 distracters. In the visual modality, target detection was slower in the dyslexic children than in the control group on a "serial" search condition only: the intercepts (but not the slopes) of the search functions were higher in the dyslexic group than in the control group. In the auditory modality, although no group difference was observed, search performance was influenced by the number of distracters in the control group only. Within the dyslexic group, not only poor visual search (high reaction times and intercepts) but also low auditory search performance (d') strongly correlated with poor irregular word reading accuracy. Moreover, both visual and auditory search performance was associated with the VA Span abilities of dyslexic participants but not with their phonological skills. The present data suggests that some visual mechanisms engaged in "serial" search contribute to reading and orthographic knowledge via VA Span skills regardless of phonological skills. The present results further open the question of the role of auditory simultaneous processing in reading as well as its link with VA Span skills. © 2013 Lallier, Donnadieu and Valdois.

Valdois S.,University Grenoble Alpes | Valdois S.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Peyrin C.,University Grenoble Alpes | Peyrin C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 5 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2014

We report the case study of a French-Spanish bilingual dyslexic girl, MP, who exhibited a severe visual attention (VA) span deficit but preserved phonological skills. Behavioural investigation showed a severe reduction of reading speed for both single items (words and pseudo-words) and texts in the two languages. However, performance was more affected in French than in Spanish. MP was administered an intensive VA span intervention programme. Pre-post intervention comparison revealed a positive effect of intervention on her VA span abilities. The intervention further transferred to reading. It primarily resulted in faster identification of the regular and irregular words in French. The effect of intervention was rather modest in Spanish that only showed a tendency for faster word reading. Text reading improved in the two languages with a stronger effect in French but pseudo-word reading did not improve in either French or Spanish. The overall results suggest that VA span intervention may primarily enhance the fast global reading procedure, with stronger effects in French than in Spanish. MP underwent two fMRI sessions to explore her brain activations before and after VA span training. Prior to the intervention, fMRI assessment showed that the striate and extrastriate visual cortices alone were activated but none of the regions typically involved in VA span. Post-training fMRI revealed increased activation of the superior and inferior parietal cortices. Comparison of pre- and post-training activations revealed significant activation increase of the superior parietal lobes (BA 7) bilaterally. Thus, we show that a specific VA span intervention not only modulates reading performance but further results in increased brain activity within the superior parietal lobes known to housing VA span abilities. Furthermore, positive effects of VA span intervention on reading suggest that the ability to process multiple visual elements simultaneously is one cause of successful reading acquisition. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Pufahl A.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Samuel A.G.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Samuel A.G.,Ikerbasque | Samuel A.G.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language
Cognitive Psychology | Year: 2014

Previous research has shown that lexical representations must include not only linguistic information (what word was said), but also indexical information (how it was said, and by whom). The present work demonstrates that even this expansion is not sufficient. Seemingly irrelevant information, such as an unattended background sound, is retained in memory and can facilitate subsequent speech perception. We presented participants with spoken words paired with environmental sounds (e.g., a phone ringing), and had them make an "animate/inanimate" decision for each word. Later performance identifying filtered versions of the words was impaired to a similar degree if the voice changed or if the environmental sound changed. Moreover, when quite dissimilar words were used at exposure and test, we observed the same result when we reversed the roles of the words and the environmental sounds. The experiments also demonstrated limits to these effects, with no benefit from repetition. Theoretically, our results support two alternative possibilities: (1) Lexical representations are memory representations, and are not walled off from those for other sounds. Indexical effects reflect simply one type of co-occurrence that is incorporated into such representations. (2) The existing literature on indexical effects does not actually bear on lexical representations - voice changes, like environmental sounds heard with a word, produce implicit memory effects that are not tied to the lexicon. We discuss the evidence and implications of these two theoretical alternatives. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Salillas E.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | Carreiras M.,Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language | Carreiras M.,Ikerbasque
Cortex | Year: 2014

Language and math have been predominantly related through exact calculation. In the present study we investigated a more fundamental link between language and math: whether the most basic quantity representation used for the contrast of numerosities could be shaped by language. We selected two groups of balanced, equally proficient Basque-Spanish bilinguals. Crucially, the two groups differed with respect to the language in which math had been learned at the point of earliest formal instruction in mathematics (Language of learning Math - LLmath). They performed a simple comparison task between pairs of Arabic digits related through the decimal system or through the vigesimal system. The vigesimal system is retained in Basque for the naming of certain numerals, while for other numerals the decimal system is used, just as for all Spanish number words. Event-related potential (ERP) distance effects were taken as the dependent variable, indexing the activation of quantity. Results showed an N1-P2 distance effect during the comparison of digit pairs related through the base-10 system in both groups. Importantly, this N1-P2 effect appeared only for the group whose LLmath was Basque when base-20 related digits were compared, even if both groups were perfectly fluent in Basque. Thus the early N1-P2 component appears to be sensitive to verbal components contained in quantity representation. Since the task did not contain any verbal input, the present data suggest that quantity representation may have verbal traces inherited from early learning. In turn, LLmath should be the optimal medium for numerical communication. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Molavi B.,University of British Columbia | May L.,University of British Columbia | Gervain J.,University of Paris Descartes | Gervain J.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 4 more authors.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

We have evaluated the use of phase synchronization to identify resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) in the language system in infants using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We used joint probability distribution of phase between fNIRS channels with a seed channel in the language area to estimate phase relations and to identify the language system network. Our results indicate the feasibility of this method in identifying the language system. The connectivity maps are consistent with anatomical cortical connections and are also comparable to those obtained from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) functional connectivity studies. The results also indicate left hemisphere lateralization of the language network. © 2014 Molavi, May, Gervain, Carreiras, Werker and Dumont.

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