Reading senseless sentences: brain potentials reflect semantic incongruity

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Science  11 Jan 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4427, pp. 203-205
DOI: 10.1126/science.7350657


In a sentence reading task, words that occurred out of context were associated with specific types of event-related brain potentials. Words that were physically aberrant (larger than normal) elecited a late positive series of potentials, whereas semantically inappropriate words elicited a late negative wave (N400). The N400 wave may be an electrophysiological sign of the "reprocessing" of semantically anomalous information.

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