Incremental and predictive discourse processing based on causal and concessive discourse markers: ERP studies on German and English

Heiner DrenhausSaarland University, Saarbrücken, Saarland, Germany
Vera DembergSaarland University, Saarbrücken, Saarland, Germany
Judith KoehneOtto-Friedrich-University Bamberg
Francesca DeloguSaarland University, Saarbrücken, Saarland, Germany

Abstract

There is some evidence for both the hypothesis that discourse connectors facilitate text comprehension and the hypothesis that processing discourse connectors is highly incremental. Less, however, is known about the way in which different discourse connectors help comprehension and whether they can elicit predictions of upcoming contents. In the present ERP studies on German and English we investigated the effect of congruency and connector type (causal / concessive) on the prediction of a target referent (2x2 design). We found a fronto-central positivity for the concessive connector compared to the causal condition and an N400-like effect for the target noun phrase for incongruent compared to congruent conditions. Our results suggest an effect of context-updating at the connector (frontal positivity) and provide evidence for prediction of upcoming content based on the discourse connector.

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