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Keywords:

  • Electrophysiology;
  • event-related potentials;
  • language;
  • syntactic;
  • P600

The study investigated whether the P600/SPS component is sensitive to the richness of semantic content in sentences. ERPs were recorded while 30 native Swedish speakers read sentences, of which half were syntactically correct and half contained a syntactic violation. Both kinds of sentences came in one of three types of descending semantic completeness: semantically coherent sentences, sentences which were incoherent due to violations of selectional restrictions, or sentences of pseudo words, hence void of lexical content. In the semantically coherent sentences a P600/SPS was found for the syntactic violation. A less salient positivity was found for the violation in the semantically incoherent sentences. No P600/SPS was found for the syntactic violation in the pseudo word sentences and no LAN component in any sentence type. The results are interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that the P600/SPS component reflects a semantically based reanalysis process.