Hierarchical and linear sequence processing: An electrophysiological exploration of two different grammar types

Jörg Bahlmann*, Thomas C. Gunter, Angela D. Friederici

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
40 Zitate (Scopus)


The present study investigated the processing of two types of artificial grammars by means of event-related brain potentials. Two categories of meaningless CV syllables were applied in each grammar type. The two grammars differed with regard to the type of the underlying rule. The finite-state grammar (FSG) followed the rule (AB)n, thereby generating local transitions between As and Bs (e.g., n = 2, ABAB). The phrase structure grammar (PSG) followed the rule AnBn, thereby generating center-embedded structures in which the first A and the last B embed the middle elements (e.g., n = 2, [A[AB]B]). Two sequence lengths (n = 2, n = 4) were used. Violations of the structures were introduced at different positions of the syllable sequences. Early violations were situated at the beginning of a sequence, and late violations were placed at the end of a sequence. A posteriorly distributed early negativity elicited by violations was present only in FSG. This effect was interpreted as the possible reflection of a violated local expectancy. Moreover, both grammar-type violations elicited a late positivity. This positivity varied as a function of the violation position in PSG, but not in FSG. These findings suggest that the late positivity could reflect difficulty of integration in PSG sequences.

ZeitschriftJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Seiten (von - bis)1829-1842
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.11.2006

Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren

  • Forschungsschwerpunkt: Gehirn, Hormone, Verhalten - Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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