An electroencephalographic study of speech monitoring


  • Riès Stephanie
  • Janssen Niels
  • Dufau Stéphane
  • Alario F.-Xavier
  • Burle Boris

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The concept of “monitoring” refers to our ability to control our actions on-line. Monitoring involved in speech production is traditionally considered an inherent part of the language system, and hence specific to language. We probed this underlying hypothesis in two psycholinguistic experiments where we recorded electroencephalographic (EEG) activities. We looked at an electrophysiological component known as the error negativity (or error-related negativity, Ne) previously observed in linguistic and non-linguistic tasks. A component of seemingly comparable origin has been reported following correct non-linguistic responses also. This challenges the error-related theories accounting for the cognitive mechanism underlying the Ne. Here, we report the observation of a negativity following correct responses in linguistic experiments involving overt speech production and manual responses. Our results suggest that, in language production too, the Ne reflects on-line response monitoring rather than error detection specifically. This implies that at least part of the monitoring involved in speech production is subtended by a general mechanism.

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