Language in context

Characterizing the comprehension of referential expressions with MEG

Christian Brodbeck, Liina Pylkkänen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    A critical component of comprehending language in context is identifying the entities that individual linguistic expressions refer to. While previous research has shown that language comprehenders resolve reference quickly and incrementally, little is currently known about the neural basis of successful reference resolution. Using source localized MEG, we provide evidence across 3 experiments and 2 languages that successful reference resolution in simple visual displays is associated with increased activation in the medial parietal lobe. In each trial, participants saw a simple visual display containing three objects which constituted the referential domain. Target referential expressions were embedded in questions about the displays. By varying the displays, we manipulated referential status while keeping the linguistic expressions constant. Follow-up experiments addressed potential interactions of reference resolution with linguistic predictiveness and pragmatic plausibility. Notably, we replicated the effect in Arabic, a language that differs in a structurally informative way from English while keeping referential aspects parallel to our two English studies. Distributed minimum norm estimates of MEG data consistently indicated that reference resolution is associated with increased activity in the medial parietal lobe. With one exception, the timing of the onset of the medial parietal response fell into a mid-latency time-window at 350–500 ms after the onset of the resolving word. Through concurrent EEG recordings on a subset of subjects we also describe the EEG topography of the effect of reference resolution, which makes the result available for comparison with a larger existing literature. Our results extend previous reports that medial parietal lobe is involved in referential language processing, indicating that it is relevant for reference resolution to individual referents, and suggests avenues for future research.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)447-460
    Number of pages14
    JournalNeuroImage
    Volume147
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Feb 15 2017

    Fingerprint

    Language
    Parietal Lobe
    Linguistics
    Electroencephalography
    Research

    Keywords

    • EEG
    • MEG
    • Reference resolution
    • Sentence comprehension
    • Visual short-term memory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neurology
    • Cognitive Neuroscience

    Cite this

    Language in context : Characterizing the comprehension of referential expressions with MEG. / Brodbeck, Christian; Pylkkänen, Liina.

    In: NeuroImage, Vol. 147, 15.02.2017, p. 447-460.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Brodbeck, Christian ; Pylkkänen, Liina. / Language in context : Characterizing the comprehension of referential expressions with MEG. In: NeuroImage. 2017 ; Vol. 147. pp. 447-460.
    @article{609d34a3b6b046ad9376f3cecc091efb,
    title = "Language in context: Characterizing the comprehension of referential expressions with MEG",
    abstract = "A critical component of comprehending language in context is identifying the entities that individual linguistic expressions refer to. While previous research has shown that language comprehenders resolve reference quickly and incrementally, little is currently known about the neural basis of successful reference resolution. Using source localized MEG, we provide evidence across 3 experiments and 2 languages that successful reference resolution in simple visual displays is associated with increased activation in the medial parietal lobe. In each trial, participants saw a simple visual display containing three objects which constituted the referential domain. Target referential expressions were embedded in questions about the displays. By varying the displays, we manipulated referential status while keeping the linguistic expressions constant. Follow-up experiments addressed potential interactions of reference resolution with linguistic predictiveness and pragmatic plausibility. Notably, we replicated the effect in Arabic, a language that differs in a structurally informative way from English while keeping referential aspects parallel to our two English studies. Distributed minimum norm estimates of MEG data consistently indicated that reference resolution is associated with increased activity in the medial parietal lobe. With one exception, the timing of the onset of the medial parietal response fell into a mid-latency time-window at 350–500 ms after the onset of the resolving word. Through concurrent EEG recordings on a subset of subjects we also describe the EEG topography of the effect of reference resolution, which makes the result available for comparison with a larger existing literature. Our results extend previous reports that medial parietal lobe is involved in referential language processing, indicating that it is relevant for reference resolution to individual referents, and suggests avenues for future research.",
    keywords = "EEG, MEG, Reference resolution, Sentence comprehension, Visual short-term memory",
    author = "Christian Brodbeck and Liina Pylkk{\"a}nen",
    year = "2017",
    month = "2",
    day = "15",
    doi = "10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.006",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "147",
    pages = "447--460",
    journal = "NeuroImage",
    issn = "1053-8119",
    publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Language in context

    T2 - Characterizing the comprehension of referential expressions with MEG

    AU - Brodbeck, Christian

    AU - Pylkkänen, Liina

    PY - 2017/2/15

    Y1 - 2017/2/15

    N2 - A critical component of comprehending language in context is identifying the entities that individual linguistic expressions refer to. While previous research has shown that language comprehenders resolve reference quickly and incrementally, little is currently known about the neural basis of successful reference resolution. Using source localized MEG, we provide evidence across 3 experiments and 2 languages that successful reference resolution in simple visual displays is associated with increased activation in the medial parietal lobe. In each trial, participants saw a simple visual display containing three objects which constituted the referential domain. Target referential expressions were embedded in questions about the displays. By varying the displays, we manipulated referential status while keeping the linguistic expressions constant. Follow-up experiments addressed potential interactions of reference resolution with linguistic predictiveness and pragmatic plausibility. Notably, we replicated the effect in Arabic, a language that differs in a structurally informative way from English while keeping referential aspects parallel to our two English studies. Distributed minimum norm estimates of MEG data consistently indicated that reference resolution is associated with increased activity in the medial parietal lobe. With one exception, the timing of the onset of the medial parietal response fell into a mid-latency time-window at 350–500 ms after the onset of the resolving word. Through concurrent EEG recordings on a subset of subjects we also describe the EEG topography of the effect of reference resolution, which makes the result available for comparison with a larger existing literature. Our results extend previous reports that medial parietal lobe is involved in referential language processing, indicating that it is relevant for reference resolution to individual referents, and suggests avenues for future research.

    AB - A critical component of comprehending language in context is identifying the entities that individual linguistic expressions refer to. While previous research has shown that language comprehenders resolve reference quickly and incrementally, little is currently known about the neural basis of successful reference resolution. Using source localized MEG, we provide evidence across 3 experiments and 2 languages that successful reference resolution in simple visual displays is associated with increased activation in the medial parietal lobe. In each trial, participants saw a simple visual display containing three objects which constituted the referential domain. Target referential expressions were embedded in questions about the displays. By varying the displays, we manipulated referential status while keeping the linguistic expressions constant. Follow-up experiments addressed potential interactions of reference resolution with linguistic predictiveness and pragmatic plausibility. Notably, we replicated the effect in Arabic, a language that differs in a structurally informative way from English while keeping referential aspects parallel to our two English studies. Distributed minimum norm estimates of MEG data consistently indicated that reference resolution is associated with increased activity in the medial parietal lobe. With one exception, the timing of the onset of the medial parietal response fell into a mid-latency time-window at 350–500 ms after the onset of the resolving word. Through concurrent EEG recordings on a subset of subjects we also describe the EEG topography of the effect of reference resolution, which makes the result available for comparison with a larger existing literature. Our results extend previous reports that medial parietal lobe is involved in referential language processing, indicating that it is relevant for reference resolution to individual referents, and suggests avenues for future research.

    KW - EEG

    KW - MEG

    KW - Reference resolution

    KW - Sentence comprehension

    KW - Visual short-term memory

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85007079397&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85007079397&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.006

    DO - 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.006

    M3 - Article

    VL - 147

    SP - 447

    EP - 460

    JO - NeuroImage

    JF - NeuroImage

    SN - 1053-8119

    ER -