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date: 21 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces psycholinguists to how neurally generated electrical potentials recorded at the scalp—the human electroencephalogram or EEG—have been and may be used to investigate language in real-time. Event-related brain potential (ERP) language research is situated in the historical landscape of electroencephalography and the emergence of cognitive electrophysiology. There are many different brain potentials associated with covert processes from sensation to cognition to motor responses that inevitably co-occur with language processes of interest to the psycholinguist. A selective review of these describes some that are common in psycholinguistic research (N400, P600, and anterior negativities: LAN, eLAN, nRef) as well as others of importance (sensory evoked potentials; mismatch negativity, MMN; contingent negative variation, CNV; P300). This diversity of potentials can confound interpretation of ERP results if overlooked or, as illustrated by some vignettes, serve to answer clear questions about language acquisition, processing, learning, production, and loss.

Keywords: language, event-related potential, sensory evoked potential, ERP, AEP, CNV, MMN, N400, P600, LAN

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