Event-Related Potentials and the Neural Mechanisms
of On-line Language Comprehension

Instructor(s): Albert Kim and Lee Osterhout

The profound growth of neuroimaging techniques in recent years provides powerful new tools for understanding human language processing. We will introduce the event-related-potential (ERP) method and its application to the study of language comprehension. The ERP method provides a direct and multidimensional measure of the brain's electrical activity with millisecond-level temporal resolution. This short course will cover the following topics: 1) a brief survey of the physiological basis of the ERP; 2) introduction to the basic steps of ERP data collection and analysis; 3) discussion of some of the seminal and more recent findings of the field; 4) discussion of new and future theoretical issues in ERP-language research, including a brief introduction to some promising novel data analysis techniques (e.g., frequency-domain analysis, source-estimation, etc.). Psycholinguistically, the course will focus on the comprehension of written words and sentences, but the covered material pertain to auditory language processing as well. The course will be based on lecture and student-lecturer discussions. The course will provide a comprehensive introduction for students with a need to understand the ERP method and its corresponding scientific literature, with experience levels ranging from novice up to early-stage ERP investigators.

Students should have a basic knowledge of psycholinguistic theory, especially in the field of sentence processing. Familiarity with introductory neurobiology and cognitive psychology will be highly advantageous but not required.