This study investigated the neurophysiology of semantic language processing in children, ages 5 to 12 years. A well-established marker of semantic processing, the N400 event related potential (ERP), was analyzed within and across child age groups. Child N400s were recorded in response to correct sentences, semantically incorrect sentences, and syntactically incorrect sentences. N400s were also recorded across ear condition to examine potential processing differences. Children across all age groups consistently demonstrated N400s in the semantic error condition. N400s were also regularly observed in the syntactic error condition; especially, for younger children. Younger children also demonstrated N400s even in response to correct sentence types. Interestingly, clear N400 effects (i.e. N400 amplitude differences between correct and semantically incorrect sentences) were only observed for one age group. While these findings indicate that children across all age groups detect semantic errors, the ability to consistently parse error types develops later.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hansen, Laurie Anne, "The N400 Event-Related Potential in Children Across Sentence Type and Ear Condition" (2010). Theses and Dissertations. 2051.
N400, event-related potentials, right ear advantage, language development, semantics