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    Electrophysiological investigation of infants’ understanding of understanding

    Forgács, B. and Gervain, J. and Parise, E. and Csibra, Gergely and Gergely, G. and Baross, J. and Király, I. (2020) Electrophysiological investigation of infants’ understanding of understanding. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 43 , p. 100783. ISSN 1878-9293.

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    Abstract

    Social cognition might play a critical role in language acquisition and comprehension, as mindreading may be necessary to infer the intended meaning of linguistic expressions uttered by communicative partners. In three electrophysiological experiments, we explored the interplay between belief attribution and language comprehension of 14-month-old infants. First, we replicated our earlier finding: infants produced an N400 effect to correctly labelled objects when the labels did not match a communicative partner’s beliefs about the referents. Second, we observed no N400 when we replaced the object with another category member. Third, when we named the objects incorrectly for infants, but congruently with the partner’s false belief, we observed large N400 responses, suggesting that infants retained their own perspective in addition to that of the partner. We thus interpret the observed social N400 effect as a communicational expectancy indicator because it was contingent not on the attribution of false beliefs but on semantic expectations by both the self and the communicative partner. Additional exploratory analyses revealed an early, frontal, positive- going electrophysiological response in all three experiments, which was contingent on infants’ computing the comprehension of the social partner based on attributed beliefs.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Gergo Csibra
    Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 10:38
    Last Modified: 03 Aug 2020 13:47
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/31816

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