A reading time and an ERP experiment conducted in Italian investigated the parser's responses to a syntactic violation (subject-verb number agreement) and to a semantic violation (subject-verb selectional restriction), examining the time course of comprehension processes until sentence end. The reading-time data showed that the syntactic violation was detected earlier than the semantic one and that the two violations differed in the time-course. The ERP data fully supported the reading time data: Syntactic anomalies elicited a left anterior negativity (LAN) and a P600. Semantic anomalies elicited a N400 centred on the parietal sites which started 90ms later (latency 430ms) than the LAN. Furthermore, the N400 evoked by the words that followed the target word continued and increased until sentence end. The results are discussed with respect to the hypotheses that the parser constructs distinct syntactic and semantic analyses of a sentence and that this characteristic holds cross-linguistically. The appropriateness of different methodologies to the study of sentence processing is also evaluated.
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