Thesis defense Miriam Kos (Donders Series 134)
23 October, 2013
Promotor: Prof.dr. P. Hagoort, copromotor: dr. D. van den Brink
On the waves of language.
Electrophysiological reflections on semantic and syntactic processing
How do we process syntactic and semantic aspects of sentences? And do individuals vary in the way they process these aspects of language? That is what Miriam Kos investigated in her thesis. Healthy participants read sentences while the electrical activity on the scalp (electroencephalography, EEG) was recorded. Her thesis proves that conflicts between syntax and semantics (e.g., “Fred eats a restaurant” or “Fred eats in a sandwich”) can lead to a higher semantic processing load. Furthermore, it shows that individuals vary in the way they process semantic errors given their EEG patterns. Finally, her thesis reveals that a general variant of the gene CNTNAP2 is related to differential EEG patterns to the processing of syntax, confirming that genetic factors are implicated in the neuronal architecture relevant for language processing.