Parametric analysis of event-related potentials in semantic comprehension: Evidence for parallel brain mechanisms

Joseph Dien, Gwen A. Frishkoff, Arleen Cerbone, Don M. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


In event-related potential (ERP) studies of cognitive processes, the electrophysiological responses are typically contrasted between experimental conditions that are taken to represent discrete categories (e.g. attended vs. unattended stimuli, or real vs. nonsense words). Because categorical variation is less powerful than continuous or parametric variation, a more effective method may be to relate continuous variation in the cognitive process with matching variation in the electrophysiological responses. We assessed continuous variation in the expectancy and meaningfulness of words in different sentence contexts by having subjects rate the words along these two dimensions. ERP averages were then created for each word by averaging the ERP across all subjects' responses to that word. A parametric principal components analysis was then conducted by multiplying the factor topographies from the temporal PCA by the parameter correlation maps for each rating parameter. This analysis showed that both expectancy and meaningfulness begin to influence lexical processing around 200 ms. Source localization of the expectancy N2 (recognition potential) pointed to a source in the left fusiform gyrus region (visual word form area). Source localization of the meaningfulness N2 (meaning recognition potential) suggested a right inferior posterior source, such as in the right cerebellum or right fusiform area. Further research with parametric analysis of dense array ERPs may clarify the multiple neural mechanisms of word recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-153
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Event-related potential
  • Fusiform gyrus
  • Language
  • N2
  • Priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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