Memory & Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 539–550 | Cite as

Event-related brain potentials to grammatical errors and semantic anomalies

  • Marta Kutas
  • Steven A. Hillyard


Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded while subjects silently read several prose passages, presented one word at a time. Semantic anomalies and various grammatical errors had been inserted unpredictably at different serial positions within some of the sentences. The semantically inappropriate words elicited a large N400 component in the ERP, whereas the grammatical errors were associated with smaller and less consistent components that had scalp distributions different from that of the N400. This result adds to the evidence that the N400 wave is more closely related to semantic than to grammatical processing. Additional analyses revealed that different ERP configurations were elicited by open-class (“content”) and closed-class (“function”) words in these prose passages.


Content Word Grammatical Error Prose Passage Late Positivity Late Negativity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Kutas
    • 1
  • Steven A. Hillyard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurosciencesUniversity of California at San DiegoLa Jolla

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