When a perceiver performs a task, rarely occurring sounds often have a distracting effect on task performance. The neural mismatch responses in event-related potentials to such distracting stimuli depend on age. Adults commonly show a negative response, whereas in children a positive as well as a negative mismatch response has been reported. Using electro- and magnetoencephalography (EEG/MEG), here we investigated the developmental changes of distraction processing in school-aged children (9–10 years) and adults. Participants took part in an auditory-visual distraction paradigm (...) comprising a visuo-spatial primary task and task-irrelevant environmental sounds distracting from this task. Behaviorally, distractors delayed reaction times in the primary task in both age groups, and this delay was of similar magnitude in both groups. The neurophysiological data revealed an early as well as a late mismatch response elicited by distracting stimuli in both age groups. Together with previous research, this indicates that deviance detection is accomplished in a hierarchical manner in the auditory system. Both mismatch responses were localized to auditory cortex areas. All mismatch responses were generally delayed in children, suggesting that not all neurophysiological aspects of deviance processing are mature in school-aged children. Furthermore, the P3a, reflecting involuntary attention capture, was present in both age groups in the EEG with comparable amplitudes and at similar latencies, but with a different topographical distribution. This suggests that involuntary attention shifts towards complex distractors operate comparably in school-aged children and adults, yet undergoing generator maturation. (shrink)
In sentence processing, it is still unclear how the neural language network successfully establishes argument–verb dependencies in its spatiotemporal neuronal dynamics. Previous work has suggested that the establishment of subject-verb and object–verb dependencies requires argument retrieval from working memory, and that dependency establishment in object-first sentences additionally necessitates argument reordering. We examine the spatiotemporal neuronal dynamics of the brain regions that subserve these sub-processes by crossing an argument-reordering factor (i.e., subject-first vs. object-first sentences) with an argument retrieval factor (i.e., short (...) vs. long argument–verb dependencies) in German. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found that reordering demands focally activate the left pars opercularis (Broca’s area), while storage and retrieval demands activated left temporo-parietal (TP) regions. In addition, when analyzing the time course of fMRI-informed equivalent current dipole sources in the EEG at the subcategorizing verb, we found that activity in the TP region occurs relatively early (40–180 ms), followed by activity in Broca’s area (300–500 ms). These findings were matched by topographical correlation analyses of fMRI activations in EEG sensor space, showing that, in the scalp potential, TP region activity surfaces as an early positivity and IFG activity as a later positivity in the scalp potential. These results provide fine-grained evidence for spatiotemporally separable sub-processes of argument retrieval and reordering in sentence processing. (shrink)
The signal functions of infant crying cannot be understood properly without due attention to their ontogenetic development. Based on our own research on the development of infant cries, we argue that the controversies in cry literature will not be solved by static models, but that progress will made only when considering ontogenetic changes in interpreting cry data.
The notion that the working-memory system is not to be located in the prefrontal cortex, but rather constituted by the interplay between temporal and frontal areas, is of some attraction. However, at least for the domain of sentence comprehension, this perspective is promoted on the basis of sparse data. For this domain, the authors not only missed out on the chance to systematically integrate event-related brain potential (ERP) and neuroimaging data when interpreting their own findings on semantic aspects of working (...) memory, but also neglected syntactic aspects of working memory and computation altogether. (shrink)
We criticize the lack of neuroanatomical precision in the Grodzinsky target article. We propose a more precise neuroanatomical characterization of syntactic processing and suggest that syntactic procedures are supported by the left frontal operculum in addition to the anterior part of the superior temporal gyrus, which appears to be associated with syntactic knowledge representation.
Both linguistic and empirical evidence fail to support Grodzinsky's account of Broca's aphasics' comprehension problems. We address concerns regarding Grodzinsky's referring to the internal subject hypothesis, the importance of case information in thematic role assignment, the processing of passives, and the adequacy of Grodzinsky's linear strategy.