Scalar adjectives and the temporal unfolding of semantic composition

An MEG investigation

Jayden Ziegler, Liina Pylkkänen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    A growing body of research implicates the left anterior temporal lobe (LATL) for combinatorial semantic processing. However, magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies have revealed this activity to be timed quite early, at 200–250 ms, preceding the most common time window for lexical-semantic effects. What type of semantic composition could the LATL perform at 200–250 ms? We hypothesized that the LATL computes an early stage of composition, taking as its input only the most readily available lexical-semantic information. To test this, we varied the context-sensitivity of prenominal adjectives, postulating that only context-insensitive intersective adjectives (e.g., dead, Italian) should compose in an early time window, whereas the composition of context-sensitive scalar adjectives (e.g., fast, large) should be delayed until the interpretation of the subsequent noun is fully determined. Consistent with this, early combinatory effects in left temporal cortex were observed only for intersective adjectives, though in this study the effects were somewhat more posterior than in prior reports. Overall, our results suggest multiple stages of semantic composition, of which the LATL may index the earliest.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)161-171
    Number of pages11
    JournalNeuropsychologia
    Volume89
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

    Fingerprint

    Magnetoencephalography
    Temporal Lobe
    Semantics
    Research

    Keywords

    • Context-sensitivity
    • Left anterior temporal lobe (LATL)
    • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
    • Scalar adjectives
    • Semantic composition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Cognitive Neuroscience
    • Behavioral Neuroscience

    Cite this

    Scalar adjectives and the temporal unfolding of semantic composition : An MEG investigation. / Ziegler, Jayden; Pylkkänen, Liina.

    In: Neuropsychologia, Vol. 89, 01.08.2016, p. 161-171.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Ziegler, Jayden ; Pylkkänen, Liina. / Scalar adjectives and the temporal unfolding of semantic composition : An MEG investigation. In: Neuropsychologia. 2016 ; Vol. 89. pp. 161-171.
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