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Is grammar processing automatic?: MMN(m) modulation by grammaticality (Talk)
In: MMN03, Third International Workshop on Mismatch Negativity and Auditory Functions and Dysfunctions, May 2003. Lyon, France, p. 28, 2003.
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The MMN, a well-known index of acoustic change detection, has recently been found to be sensitive to lexical properties. If a sequence of two syllables form a word together, their MMN is enhanced relative to the MMN elicited by a syllable combination that lacks a lexical status as a word of one's language. We have now looked at combinations of syllables, each of which constituted a complete mono-syllabic word. Syllables were combined in a way so that the resulting strings were syntactically regular or ungrammatical. In the EEG and MEG, we consistently observed a left-lateralized MMN(m) that was enhanced to the ungrammatical string relative to the grammatical one. Modulation of the MMN was present early-on, around 150-200 ms after the critical point of word recognition. We ask whether the syntactic modulation of the MMN is evidence of neuronal populations in the human brain that specialise in detecting sequences of words from defined lexical categories (sequence detectors, SD) and provide syntactic priming at the neuronal level between regular neighbours within a syntactic string. We also ask whether the present results provide evidence that grammatical processing is automatic.