Evidence for automatic linguistic processing in preschool children: a magnetoencephalography study

Graciela Tesan, Blake Johnson, Stephen Crain

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


    This study used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate which brain areas four-year old children activate to process grammatical anomalies. Using MEG, we were able to localise brain areas involved in semantic and syntactic integration processes in the brain of normally developing children. Subjects: we report data from 19 English-speaking, righthanded, 4 year olds (mean age= 53 months, S.D.= 3 months). Children listened to spoken sentences. To ensure children were paying attention to the stimuli, their task was to repeat a catch phrase contained in filler. Neuromagnetic fields were recorded with a child-sized whole-head, 64-channel axial gradiometer MEG system (KIT/Yokogawa, Japan) at the KIT-Macquarie Brain Research Lab (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia). To identify neural generators, we used the distributed inverse method LORETA (BESA 5.3). Our region-of-interest analysis revealed a significant larger response of the posterior superior temporal lobe between 380 to 530 ms bilaterally to ungrammatical contexts. In comparison to analogous studies with adults, we found that children's brains activate a similar network while processing linguistic anomalies. Our results provide evidence in favor automatic semantic and syntactic processes to be in place earlier that predicted by constructivist views of language development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)248
    Number of pages1
    JournalClinical EEG and neuroscience
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventAustralasian Cognitive Neurosciences Conference (21st : 2011) - Sydney
    Duration: 9 Dec 201112 Dec 2011


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