Researchers Revealed the Function of Delta-Band Neural Responses in Speech Comprehension

How the brain groups words into multi-word chunks, e.g. phrases and sentences, to achieve speech comprehension has been heavily debated. Numerous studies support that the neural tracking of phrases and sentences most likely reflects mental representations of multi-word chunks and cannot be fully explained by lexical properties of individual words. In a new study led by NYU Shanghai Associate Professor of Neural and Cognitive Sciences Xing Tian, researchers investigate the extent to which delta-band neural responses to speech can be explained by semantic relatedness between words. During the experiment, participants are asked to listen to sentence sequences and paired-word sequences in which semantically related words are repeated at 1 Hz, as their empirical neural activity is recorded using magnetoencephalography. The results of the study suggest that cortical activity tracks multi-word chunks constructed by either syntactic rules or task-related rules, and that the semantic relatedness between words contributes only in a minor way. The research was recently published in Cerebral Cortex and the first author Yuhan Lu is a N.E.T. (NYU Shanghai-ECNU Joint Graduate Training Program) PhD candidate supervised by Professor Tian.


Journal Reference:

Lu, Y., Jin, P., Ding, N.*, and Tian, X.* (2022). Delta-band neural tracking primarily reflects rule-based chunking instead of semantic relatedness between words. Cerebral Cortex, bhac354,