Poster Session E, Monday, March 25, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Somatotopic phonological priming and prediction in the motor system
Luigi Grisoni1, Friedemann Pulvermüller1,2,3; 1Freie Universität Berlin, Brain Language Laboratory, Department of Philosophy and Humanities, 14195 Berlin, Germany, 2Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany, 3Einstein Center for Neurosciences, 10117, Berlin, Germany
Classic theories claim that motor and premotor cortex contribute to motor execution but not to language comprehension. This position became problematic in light of neuroscientific experiments showing motor activation during passive speech processing (Fadiga et al., 2002), phonological mapping of speech sounds within the motor cortex (Pulvermüller et al., 2006), and causal effects of motor cortex stimulation on the processing of speech sounds (Schomers et al., 2016). A phonological theory grounded in bodily action and perception mechanisms seems to capture these novel findings (Pulvermüller & Fadiga, 2010), although a debate is still ongoing (Hickok, 2013). To clarify whether the motor system contributes to phonological processes, we investigated neurophysiological indexes of phonological priming. Testing adult human participants, we show that already before the presentation of a phoneme, context-induced phonological predictions are reflected by an event-related potential (ERP) whose latency, polarity and shape is consistent with the Readiness Potential, a component of the event-related potentials (ERP) traditionally associated with action preparation. Furthermore, phonemes elicited significantly larger stimulus-evoked (Mismatch Negativity-like) responses when presented in articulatory-incongruent (e.g. "[t]" in the context of "[p]" and "[b]" in the context of "[d]") than in articulatory-congruent (e.g. "[t]" in the context of "[d]" and "[b]" in the context of "[p]") contexts, a pattern reminiscent of neurophysiological priming. Cortical generators were localized in areas traditionally associated with language processing, including left inferior frontal cortex and temporal pole, and, crucially, in motor areas. These results provide conclusive evidence for the relevance of the motor system in language processing.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other