[PS-1.41] Individual differences in the social N400 effect

Kohút, Z. & Rueschemeyer, S.

University of York

To engage in conversation we must understand what is said, but must also track the thoughts and feelings of our conversational partners. In a previous study (Rueschemeyer et al., 2015) we showed that participants monitor the comprehension of other listeners using the same cognitive mechanisms they use to monitor language stimuli for themselves. Specifically, a ?Social-N400-Effect? was elicited from participants presented with sentence stimuli that were plausible for the participant, but implausible for a confederate seated nearby. In the current study we explore how the Social-N400-Effect is modulated by other cognitive abilities, including executive control and empathy. Participants completed both the Joint Comprehension Task (in which sentences describing plausible and implausible situations were read alone or together with a confederate) while EEG was recorded. Afterwards participants engaged in a battery of cognitive tests. Analysis of the EEG data again demonstrated the Social-N400-Effect. In addition, the electrophysiological response was seen to be positively connected to measures of empathy and executive control. Our results confirm that the role of co-listeners is important in studies of language comprehension; in addition they suggest that individual differences in social and cognitive abilities affect our propensity to consider the perspective of others during language comprehension.