Grammatical agreement often becomes the subject of experimen- tal studies: this is one of basic linguistic operations that exhibits interesting cross-linguistic similarities and differences and allows exploring how linguistic dependencies are established and how different features (number, gender, person etc.) are represented and manipulated in the mental grammar. However, most experiments use behavioral methods so far, a number of studies relies on EEG, and neuroimaging experiments are still very infrequent. They revealed a number of facts regarding different functional roles played by the brain areas comprising the frontotemporal language processing brain system: their involvement in semantic or syntactic analysis, in person and number agreement error detection etc.
Nineteen healthy right-handed subjects (23±4 years old) partici- pated in the current fMRI study aimed to extend these findings focusing on adjective-noun agreement, which has not been studied before, and on a novel feature: case. Russian has six cases, and adjectives agree with nouns in case, as well as in number and gender (in singular). Grammatically correct sentences as well as sentences with two types of agreement errors were compared: involving or not involving agreement attraction (attraction in subject-predicate number and gender agreement has been extensively studied using behavioral methods and EEG, but not using fMRI). All adjective-noun pairs were introduced by prepositions that unambiguously indicated which case should be used.
We found that the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG, BA 45/47) and the supplementary motor area were involved in error processing in all conditions (with or without attraction). At the same time, the relative
decrease in local activity within the left middle frontal gyrus (LMFG, BA 10) was demonstrated for the sentences with attraction errors. The revealed differential involvement of the LIFG and LMFG in the processing of agreement errors supports the domain general role of the LIFG and the language-specific involvement of the LMFG sensitive to morphological features of the form-to-meaning mapping process.
We examined how emotional context influences processing of emotionally neutral acoustic stimuli in the human auditory cortex. Nine subjects performed a simple discrimination task. In the positive-emotional trials correct performance was awarded with money, whereas in the negative-emotional trials, correct performance resulted in avoidance of the loss of money. Auditory stimuli were identical in both trial types. An event-related brain potential (ERP) N100 deflection, generated in the auditory cortex, was significantly larger in the negative as compared to the positive-emotional trials. This result demonstrates that emotional context influences early sensory-specific cortical processing. In addition, we found some evidence in favor of assumption that processing of positive visual feedback was faster in negative-emotional trials. This was reflected in the tendency for the latency of visual ERPs to be shorter in the latter case. We suggest that our results indicate that the systemic organization at all stages of deployment of behavior depends on emotional context. Dynamics of learning the discrimination task was also dependent on emotional context.
It has been presented that Western cultures (USA, Western Europe) are mostly characterized by competitive forms of social interaction, whereas Eastern cultures (Japan, China, Russia) are mostly characterized by cooperative forms. It has also been stated that thinking in Eastern countries is predominantly holistic and in Western countries analytic. Based on this, we hypothesized that subjects with analytic vs. holistic thinking styles show differences in decision making in different types of social interaction conditions. We investigated behavioural and brain-activity differences between subjects with analytic and holistic thinking during a choice reaction time (ChRT) task, wherein the subjects either cooperated, competed (in pairs), or performed the task without interaction with other participants. Healthy Russian subjects (N=78) were divided into two groups based on having analytic or holistic thinking as determined with an established questionnaire. We measured reaction times as well as event-related brain potentials. There were significant differences between the interaction conditions in task performance between subjects with analytic and holistic thinking. Both behavioral performance and physiological measures exhibited higher variance in holistic than in analytic subjects. Differences in amplitude and P300 latency suggest that decision making was easier for the holistic subjects in the cooperation condition, in contrast to analytic subjects for whom decision making based on these measures seemed to be easier in the competition condition. The P300 amplitude was higher in the individual condition as compared with the collective conditions. Overall, our results support the notion that the brains of analytic and holistic subjects work differently in different types of social interaction conditions.
The aim of this study was to develop a paradigm for obtaining a multi-feature profile for central auditory processing of different magnitudes of prosodic and phonetic changes in speech sounds. We recorded the MMNs to three vowel identity changes, three magnitudes of changes in intensity, and vowel duration as well as to two magnitudes of pitch changes from semi-synthetic vowels in 34min. Furthermore, we examined how the type and magnitude of deviation affect the size and timing of the MMN. All sound changes elicited statistically significant MMN responses, with the MMNamplitudes increasing with an increase in sound deviance. Importantly, the MMN amplitudes for the vowel changes reflected the differences between the phonemes, as did the MMNs to vowel-duration changes reflect the categorization of these sounds to short and long vowel categories, which are meaningful in the Finnish language. This new multi-feature MMN paradigm is suitable for investigating the central auditory processing of different magnitudes of speech-sound changes and can be used, for instance, in the investigation of pre-attentive phoneme categorization. The paradigm is especially useful for studying speech and language disorders in general, language development, and evolution of phoneme categories early in life, as well as brain plasticity during native or second language learning
Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation of cardiac inter-beat intervals over time resulting largely from the interplay between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. Individual differences in HRV are associated with emotion regulation, personality, psychopathology, cardiovascular health, and mortality. Previous studies have shown significant heritability of HRV measures. Here we extend genetic research on HRV by investigating sex differences in genetic underpinnings of HRV, the degree of genetic overlap among different measurement domains of HRV, and phenotypic and genetic relationships between HRV and the resting heart rate (HR). We performed electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings in a large population-representative sample of young adult twins (n = 1060 individuals) and computed HRV measures from three domains: time, frequency, and nonlinear dynamics. Genetic and environmental influences on HRV measures were estimated using linear structural equation modeling of twin data. The results showed that variability of HRV and HR measures can be accounted for by additive genetic and non-shared environmental influences (AE model), with no evidence for significant shared environmental effects. Heritability estimates ranged from 47 to 64%, with little difference across HRV measurement domains. Genetic influences did not differ between genders for most variables except the square root of the mean squared differences between successive R-R intervals (RMSSD, higher heritability in males) and the ratio of low to high frequency power (LF/HF, distinct genetic factors operating in males and females). The results indicate high phenotypic and especially genetic correlations between HRV measures from different domains, suggesting that > 90% of genetic influences are shared across measures. Finally, about 40% of genetic variance in HRV was shared with HR. In conclusion, both HR and HRV measures are highly heritable traits in the general population of young adults, with high degree of genetic overlap across different measurement domains.
The approach and withdrawal behaviors can be superficially similar. Howether, they differ in a number of cognitive, neurological and physiological characteristics (Carver et al., 2000; Elliot, 2006; Brunia et al., 2011; Franzen et al., 2015). The critical assumption for the present study is that these two types of behaviour are supported by distinct asymmetric domains of individual experience. The withdrawal (W) domain of experience is argued to contain more units of individual experience, than the approach (A) domain (Alexandrov & Sams, 2005; Sozinov et al., 2012). Stress is a state of reduced behavioral complexity (Parin, 2008; Alexandrov et al., 2016).
It is largely accepted that the brain system comprising the left inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral areas of the temporal cortex is specifically involved in morphologically complex word processing. Despite a substantial number of experimental neuroimaging studies, the principles of functional organization of this system remain controversial. For instance, a number of studies point to different regimes of involvement of the left IFG and bilateral temporal regions in the processing of regularly or irregularly inflected forms. It is assumed that regular forms are processed using a combinatorial stem-affix rule and that this process is mainly supported by the left IFG and the left superior temporal gyrus (STG). On the other hand, processing of irregular forms is subserved by lexical memory supported by brain areas located in the bilateral STG.
Also there is a controversy in the experimental findings demon- strating different directions of changes in the levels of functional activity in the lIFG and STG regions associated with processing of regularly or irregulary inflected forms. Therefore, it is hard to consistently support the claim of differential involvement of this system in the rule or memory-based processing. Since there is a lack of studies dedicated to the investigation of functional interactions within this fronto-temporal brain system it is also hard to infer the principles of its functional organization.
To fill this gap we recently conducted two fMRI studies in which healthy participants actively and overtly inflected or passively perceived and actively selected regular and irregular Russian verb forms. Irrespective of the task type, processing of irregular forms was associated with the greater levels of local functional activity in a number of brain regions including the left IFG. In contrast, the analysis of psychophysiological interactions of the lIFG revealed greater connectivity with brain areas located in the STG for both generating and selecting egular verb forms, as compared to irregular ones. Revealed differential relations between the changes in local activity and distant functional interactions can be seen as alterna- tions in the regime of fronto-temporal network activity as a function of morphological process involved.
In recent years, the usability became a central issue for program interfaces design. This study determined the influence of user’s functional states on graphical user interface usability evaluation. We hypothesized the strong link between changes in psychophysiological indicators of users’ functional states and the way they evaluate the interface usability. 26 male students of technical specialties (mean age – 21 years) operated two users interfaces (hierarchical menus). Menus consisted of information of objects and the task of participants was to classify these objects using six categories. In addition to such performance measures as task completion time and task completion rate several psychophysiological parameters were recorded – electrocardiogram, galvanic skin response, electroencephalogram, respiratory rate. For each participant the experiment consisted of two blocks during which subjects performed the task of classification in menus. Blocks contained 30 objects to classification. Between these blocks, there was a relaxation break to change functional states of the subjects using relaxation procedure (sensory reproduction). We also used the System Usability Scale (SUS) to evaluate the subjective usability level. The regression analysis showed the importance of the functional state dynamic for the construction of the model (R2=0,667, p<0,001) considering two significant determinants of users subjective system usability evaluation – eeg alpha rhythm power and heart rate variability. Furthermore, our finding revealed that functional state dynamic indirectly influence on usability through interface satisfaction. Differences in psychophysiological parameters point to the need to consider more strongly the factor of functional state in usability research and practice.
Ambiguity plays an important role in our everyday cognitive experience. Since the 1980s, the neural bases for the perception of ambiguous information have been investigated but remains poorly understood. In our previous research, an increase of the N400 ERP component was found to be a common response for the perception of two different types of ambiguous stimuli: “canned” verbal jokes and ambiguous figures (Shcherbakova, Filippova, 2016; Filippova, Shcherbakova, Shtyrov, 2018). The current experiment aimed to understand the relationship between the error related negativity (ERN) component arising from jokes and ambiguous figures mistaken for non-humoristic texts and non-ambiguous figures.
Fourteen participants (9 females) went through two similar experimental procedures with 36 ambiguous and 36 non-ambiguous figures; 14 verbal jokes and 14 similar but non-humoristic short stories. Firstly, participants were presented with figures of both types and asked to identify whether each figure was ambiguous or non-ambiguous. We recorded ERPs that were timelocked to each answer about ambiguity/non-ambiguity of the figure presented. Secondly, participants were presented with the verbal stories and asked to identify whether each story was a joke or not. In this case, ERPs were time-locked to each answer about the key phrase of a joke/non-joke presented word-by-word on the computer screen after the whole text.
But we found an increase of the ERPs’ negativity in ambiguous figures that were mistaken for non-ambiguous ones in the ERN time window (Fz (F(3,622) = 12,6; p b 0.00) and Cz (F(3,625) = 6,96; p b 0.00)). Also, the results revealed no increase of the ERPs’ negativity in verbal jokes that were mistaken for non-jokes in the ERN time window. The results show that participants appeared to be sensitive (without awareness) to ambiguous figures that were identified as non-ambiguous ones. The level of this unconscious sensitivity is therefore reflected by the increases in negativity.
When a participant cannot correctly identify ambiguous stimulus at a conscious level, increases in negativity may be indexing greater violations of incongruence within an internal representation of meaning. These violations may precede semantic reversion of ambiguous figures and the understanding of a joke’s meaning.
Supported by RFBR (Dpt of Humanities and Social Sciences) grant #17-06-01014 А and RFBR grant #18-013-01086.