April 15, 2021

Domain-general conflict monitoring predicts neural and behavioral indices of linguistic error processing during reading comprehension

The ability to detect and respond to linguistic errors is critical for successful reading comprehension, but these skills can vary considerably across readers. In the current study, healthy adults (age 18-35) read short discourse scenarios for comprehension while monitoring for the presence of semantic anomalies. Using a factor analytic approach, we examined if performance in non-linguistic conflict monitoring tasks (Stroop, AX-CPT) would predict individual differences in neural and behavioral measures of linguistic error processing. Consistent with our hypothesis, domain-general conflict monitoring predicted both readers’ end-of-trial acceptability judgments and the amplitude of a late neural response (the P600) evoked by linguistic anomalies. Interestingly, the influence on the P600 was non-linear, suggesting that online neural responses to linguistic errors are influenced by both the effectiveness and efficiency of domain-general conflict monitoring. These relationships were also highly specific and remained after controlling for variability in working memory capacity and verbal knowledge. Finally, we found that domain-general conflict monitoring also predicted individual variability in measures of reading comprehension, and that this relationship was partially mediated by behavioral measures of linguistic error detection. These findings inform our understanding of the role of domain-general executive functions in reading comprehension, with potential implications for the diagnosis and treatment of language impairments.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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