Event related potentials of the processing of reflexives, pronouns and referential violations
Language comprehension is supported by a wide network that connects multiple sources of information. Which information is necessary for specific processes and how and when does it play a role? In this study we compare the Event Related Potentials (ERPs) and response accuracy during an auditory picture verification task. Sentences included personal or reflexive pronouns as well as referential violations. The participants were 28 healthy speakers of European Portuguese. We found an N300 effect when contrasting personal and reflexive pronouns, indicating that context supports particularly the interpretation of personal pronouns. An N400 effect occurred for conditions with referential violations, denoting effort to retrieve antecedents and/or integrate sentences. Additionally, a comparison of the two types of referential violations revealed an Nref effect, indicating that the processing of personal pronouns is particularly ambiguous without contextual support, requiring further controlled processes, such as establishing a Semantic-Pragmatic Inference and selecting an appropriate discourse unit.