Oscillatory dynamics of cortical functional connections in semantic prediction

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Abstract

An event related potential, known as the N400, has been particularly useful in investigating language processing as it serves as a neural index for semantic prediction. There are numerous studies on the functional segregation of N400 neural sources; however, the oscillatory dynamics of functional connections among the relevant sources has remained elusive. In this study we acquired magnetoencephalography data during a classic N400 paradigm, where the semantic predictability of a fixed target noun was manipulated in simple German sentences. We conducted inter-regional functional connectivity (FC) and time–frequency analysis on known regions of the semantic network, encompassing bilateral temporal, and prefrontal cortices. Increased FC was found in less predicted (LP) nouns compared with highly predicted (HP) nouns in three connections: (a) right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and right middle temporal gyrus (MTG) from 0 to 300 ms mainly within the alpha band, (b) left lateral orbitofrontal (LOF) and right IFG around 400 ms within the beta band, and (c) left superior temporal gyrus (STG) and left LOF from 300 to 700 ms in the beta and low gamma bands. Furthermore, gamma spectral power (31–70 Hz) was stronger in HP nouns than in LP nouns in left anterior temporal cortices in earlier time windows (0–200 ms). Our findings support recent theories in language comprehension, suggesting fronto-temporal top–down connections are mainly mediated through beta oscillations while gamma band frequencies are involved in matching between prediction and input.

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Mamashli, F., Khan, S., Obleser, J., Friederici, A. D., & Maess, B. (2019). Oscillatory dynamics of cortical functional connections in semantic prediction. Human Brain Mapping, 40(6), 1856–1866. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24495

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