Online Processing of Temporal Agreement in a Grammatical Tone Language: An ERP Study
Previous electrophysiological studies that have examined temporal agreement violations in (Indo-European) languages that use grammatical affixes to mark time reference, have found a Left Anterior Negativity (LAN) and/or P600 ERP components, reflecting morpho-syntactic and syntactic processing, respectively. The current study investigates the electrophysiological processing of temporal relations in an African language (Akan) that uses grammatical tone, rather than morphological inflection, for time reference. Twenty-four native speakers of Akan listened to sentences with time reference violations. Our results demonstrate that a violation of a present context by a past verb yields a P600 time-locked to the verb. There was no such effect when a past context was violated by a present verb. In conclusion, while there are similarities in both Akan and Indo-European languages, as far as the modulation of the P600 effect is concerned, the nature of this effect seems to be different for these languages.