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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for automatic linguistic processing in preschool children: a magnetoencephalography study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this