The P600, P3, and phasic noradrenaline release

The P600 component of the event-related potential (ERP) is typically observed upon grammaticality violations, reversal anomalies, and syntactic ambiguities when reading or listening to sentences. It is often interpreted as a signal of specific linguistic syntactic and combinatorial operations and continues to inform neurocognitive models of language comprehension. However, its underlying process is still not agreed upon.

My PhD project aims to contribute to the current debate about how much the cognitive process underlying the P600 is tied to attention and cognitive control and whether it might be a variant of a more domain-general component (the P3) and thus not reflect a specific linguistic process per se. More specifically, my project further tests the hypothesis that – possibly just like the P3 – the P600 might reflect phasic norepinephrine release from the locus coeruleus to motivationally significant stimuli more generally (Sassenhagen et al., 2014; Sassenhagen & Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, 2015; Sassenhagen & Fiebach, 2019). To this end, I link EEG activity recorded during sentence processing tasks to reaction time and pupillary measures. In addition, we plan to manipulate noradrenaline release non-invasively via transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation. My advisers are Milena Rabovsky, Mathias Weymar, and Isabell Wartenburger.

To hear more about our studies and first results, visit our talks at the

  • AMLaP 2021 (September 4, 2.15-3.15 pm CEST)
  • SNL 2021 (October 7, 3-5 pm CEST)
Friederike Contier (née Schütte)
Friederike Contier (née Schütte)
PhD Student

My research interests include the neurocognition of language and meaning, sentence comprehension, and verbal working memory.