Distinguishing different fictional worlds during sentence comprehension: ERP evidence

Authors

  • Jie Yang,

    1. Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, USA
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  • Jin Xue

    Corresponding author
    1. School of English Language, Literature and Culture and Center for Language and Cognition, Beijing International Studies University, Beijing, China
    • Address correspondence to: Jin Xue, PhD, School of English Language, Literature and Culture and Center for Language and Cognition, Beijing International Studies University, 1# Dingfuzhuang Nanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100024. E-mail: xuejin@bisu.edu.cn

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  • The present study was supported in part by a grant from Natural Social Science Foundation of China to the corresponding author (12CYY027) and in part by a grant from Humanities and Social Sciences project of the Ministry of Education of P.R.C. to the authors (10YJCZH194).

Abstract

The neural mechanism of distinguishing reality from fiction has been explored recently. While people only represent one real world, they are likely to have representations for multiple fictional worlds. This study used event-related potentials to investigate how different fictional events were distinguished during sentence comprehension. Participants read fictional events involving real people (e.g., President Bush) or unreal characters (e.g., Lord Voldemort). Inconsistency of reality was created by introducing real people into the events involving unreal characters or introducing unreal characters into the events involving real people. The results indicated that inconsistency in reality in both types of fictional events elicited a late positive effect, and an interaction between event type and consistency effect was found in medial sites. These results suggested that reality information is important for the construction and updating of situation models.

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