High-frequency cortical responses reflect lexical processing: An MEG study

Friedemann Pulvermüller, Carsten Eulitz, Christo Pantev, Bettina Mohr, Bernd Feige, Werner Lutzenberger, Thomas Elbert, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Meaningful words and matched pseudowords, such as moon vs. noom, are of equal perceptual complexity, but invoke different cognitive processes. To investigate high-frequency cortical responses to these stimuli, biomagnetic signals were recorded simultaneously over both hemispheres of right-handed individuals listening to words and pseudowords. Consistent with earlier EEG studies, evoked spectral responses recorded from the left hemisphere revealed depression of spectral power in the low gamma band (around 30 Hz) after pseudowords but not after words. Similar differences between stimulus categories were present in the beta range. These results indicate that distinct patterns of high-frequency cortical responses correspond to the different cognitive processes invoked by words and pseudowords. It is hypothesized that differential high-frequency cortical responses signal the activation or activation failure of distributed Hebbian cell assemblies representing words and other elements of cognitive processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1996


  • 30 Hz
  • Beta
  • Cell assembly
  • Cognitive
  • Evoked spectral responses
  • Gamma
  • Language
  • Magnetoencephalography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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