Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26418230
Link to DOI – 10.1371/journal.pone.0139016
PLoS One 2015 ; 10(9): e0139016
During text reading, the parafoveal word was usually presented between 2° and 5° from the point of fixation. Whether semantic information of parafoveal words can be processed during sentence reading is a critical and long-standing issue. Recently, studies using the RSVP-flanker paradigm have shown that the incongruent parafoveal word, presented as right flanker, elicited a more negative N400 compared with the congruent parafoveal word. This suggests that the semantic information of parafoveal words can be extracted and integrated during sentence reading, because the N400 effect is a classical index of semantic integration. However, as most previous studies did not control the word-pair congruency of the parafoveal and the foveal words that were presented in the critical triad, it is still unclear whether such integration happened at the sentence level or just at the word-pair level. The present study addressed this question by manipulating verbs in Chinese sentences to yield either a semantically congruent or semantically incongruent context for the critical noun. In particular, the interval between the critical nouns and verbs was controlled to be 4 or 5 characters. Thus, to detect the incongruence of the parafoveal noun, participants had to integrate it with the global sentential context. The results revealed that the N400 time-locked to the critical triads was more negative in incongruent than in congruent sentences, suggesting that parafoveal semantic information can be integrated at the sentence level during Chinese reading.