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The Processing of Grammatical Gender Agreement in Brazilian Portuguese: ERP Evidence in Favor of a Single Route

Abstract

The present study used event-related potentials to investigate whether the processing of grammatical gender agreement involving gender regular and irregular forms recruit the same or distinct neurocognitive mechanisms and whether different grammatical gender agreement conditions elicit the same or diverse ERP signals. Native speakers of Brazilian Portuguese read sentences containing congruent and incongruent grammatical gender agreement between a determiner and a regular or an irregular form (condition 1) and between a regular or an irregular form and an adjective (condition 2). However, in condition 2, trials with incongruent regular forms elicited more positive ongoing waveforms than trial with incongruent irregular forms. We found a biphasic LAN/P600 effect for gender agreement violation involving regular and irregular forms in both conditions. Our findings suggest that gender agreement between determiner and nouns recruits the same neurocognitive mechanisms regardless of the nouns’ form and that, depending on the grammatical class of the words involved in gender agreement, differences in ERP signals can emerge.

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Notes

  1. Available at linguateca: www.linguateca.pt.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Daniel Acheson, for his valuable support in the analysis of data, and to Peter Hagoort, for generously granting access to equipment and resources at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen.

Funding

This study was funded by CAPES (Program CAPES/NUFFIC Project 051/13 -Grant Number 23038.007129/2013-40, awarded to Mailce Borges Mota, and Program CAPES Doutorado SWE Grant Number 115981/13-1, awarded to Natália Carolina Alencar de Resende.

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Correspondence to Mailce Borges Mota.

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de Resende, N.C.A., Mota, M.B. & Seuren, P. The Processing of Grammatical Gender Agreement in Brazilian Portuguese: ERP Evidence in Favor of a Single Route. J Psycholinguist Res 48, 181–198 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-018-9598-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-018-9598-z

Keywords

  • Gender agreement
  • Regular and irregular forms
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Event-related potentials