Exploring the Neural Mechanisms Supporting Structured Sequence Processing and Language Using Event-Related Potentials: Some Preliminary Findings


Structured sequence processing (SSP) refers to the neurocognitive mechanisms used to learn sequential patterns. SSP seems to be important for language knowledge; however, there are few neural studies showing an empirical connection between SSP and language. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between SSP and language processing by comparing underlying neural components elicited during each type of task. Healthy adults completed a visual, non-linguistic SSP task and a visual morpho-syntactic language task. Both tasks were designed to cause violations in expectations of items occurring in a series. Event-related potentials were used to examine the neural mechanisms associated with these expectancy violations. The results indicated the P3a elicited by the SSP task and the P600 elicited by the language task shared similarities in their topographic distribution. These preliminary analyses suggest the P3a and P600 may reflect processes involving detection of sequential violations in non-language and language domains.

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