Local syntactic violations evoke fast mismatch-related neural activity detected by optical neuroimaging

Mikio Kubota, Luca Pollonini, George Zouridakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


It remains to be investigated whether syntax-related mismatch activity would be evoked in event-related optical signals by syntactic violations that deviate from our language knowledge and expectations. In the current study, we have employed fast optical neuroimaging with a frequency-domain oximeter to examine whether syntactic violations of English bare infinitives in the non-finite complement clause would trigger syntax-related mismatch effects. Recorded sentences of bare or full infinitive structures (without or with the ‘to’ infinitival marker) with syntactically correct or incorrect versions and non-syntactic lexical items (verbs) were presented to native speakers of English (n = 8) during silent movie viewing as a passive oddball task. The analysis of source strength (i.e., minimum norm current amplitudes) revealed that the syntactic category violations of bare object infinitives led to significantly more robust optical mismatch effects than the other syntactic violation and non-structural, lexical elements. This mismatch response had a peak latency of 186 ms in the left anterior superior temporal gyrus. In combination with our prior MEG report (Kubota et al. in Neurosci Lett 662:195–204, 2018), the present optical neuroimaging findings show that syntactic marking (unmarked-to-marked) violations of the bare object infinitive against the rule of the mental grammar enhance the signal strength exactly in the same manner seen with MEG scanning, including the peak latency of mismatch activity and the activated area of the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2665-2684
Number of pages20
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Event-related optical signals (EROS)
  • Fast optical signal (FOS)
  • Language
  • Oddball paradigm
  • Optical neuroimaging
  • Syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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