Context in neurolinguistics

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Context represents a broad range of aspects, comprising for example the conversational setting (including speaker and hearer), mutual knowledge, inter- and intratextual information. Crucially, research targeting the temporal dynamics of language processing in discourse suggests that these different features affect processes in two discrete stages. Based on findings from time-sensitive electrophysiology, this article provides an overview over previous investigation of language comprehension in context, demonstrating that the human parser appears to be driven by two principled processes: i) a highly expectation-based mechanism that is fed by numerous contextual features (reflected in N400-effects), and ii) a mechanism that is concerned with the updating of propositional content and is driven by considerations of cooperativeness and speaker intention (reflected by a Late Positivity).


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