Lia Călinescu (NTNU) on Verb-Noun and Adjective-Noun composition in the brain

Published 5 May 2023

Title: In search for composition in the brain: ERP and oscillatory effects of Verb-Noun and Adjective-Noun composition

Date: 9 May

Time: 13.15-15

Room: SOL:A158


Research aiming to uncover the neural corelates of composition in the brain has been very productive over the last few decades. However, such a corelate has arguably not been observed to date. In this research we explore the possibility that the reason for this delay is the fact that the experimental paradigms used in previous research have not been optimal for this aim. At the same time we raise the question of whether composition is not always used as a strategy of deriving meaning of complex expressions. I used a novel paradigm in a EEG experiment testing whether arguments (e.g. the direct object of a transitive verb) and adjuncts (e.g. an adjective modifying a noun) are composed by similar or different mechanisms at the neural level. ERP and oscillatory responses seem to suggest alternative explanations for meaning comprehension that do not rely compositionality.