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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Is negation inherently harder than affirmation? How does negation change the neural representation of a word meaning? Recent studies considering pragmatic aspects of language, largely neglected in early studies on negation, have challenged the view that negation involves an extra processing stage to modify, or recode, an affirmative representation initially activated. In consequence, researchers have sought to determine the earliest effects of negation on the neural activity associated with language understanding. Behavioral, neuroimaging, and electrophysiological research have highlighted three circumstances. First, negation changes the neural representation of a word meaning from the earliest stages of word processing. Second, negation reduces or abolishes the activity in brain areas representing the word in the scope of negation. Third, the brain network for response inhibition is recruited during processing negation. Composing these results into a unitary framework, a neurobiological model of negation is proposed that integrates the neurophysiological mechanisms of lexical-semantic processing and inhibition.

Keywords: neurobiology of language, sentential negation, response inhibition, motor simulation, action-language, lexical-semantic processing, language understanding

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