Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grammar Errors? The Brain Detects Them Even When You Are Unaware

Laura Batterink, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon, recorded event-related brain potentials (ERPs) as study participants were presented with sentences, some containing grammar errors. In the majority of cases, subjects processed the errors without awareness.

 

Your brain often works on autopilot when it comes to grammar. That theory has been around for years, but University of Oregon neuroscientists have captured elusive hard evidence that people indeed detect and process grammatical errors with no awareness of doing so.

Participants in the study -- native-English speaking people, ages 18-30 -- had their brain activity recorded using electroencephalography, from which researchers focused on a signal known as the Event-Related Potential (ERP). This non-invasive technique allows for the capture of changes in brain electrical activity during an event. In this case, events were short sentences presented visually one word at a time.

Subjects were given 280 experimental sentences, including some that were syntactically (grammatically) correct and others containing grammatical errors, such as "We drank Lisa's brandy by the fire in the lobby," or "We drank Lisa's by brandy the fire in the lobby." A 50 millisecond audio tone was also played at some point in each sentence. A tone appeared before or after a grammatical faux pas was presented. The auditory distraction also appeared in grammatically correct sentences.

For the rest of the story: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130513131512.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

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