This event-related potentials (ERPs) study investigated online processes of integration of information relating to characters in narrative comprehension. The final sample included twenty-nine participants who read short third-person stories in which the plausibility of the characters’ actions was manipulated. Stories were administered in three conditions: a character-based congruent condition including a target word that was consistent with the character’s job; a character-based incongruent condition with a target word inconsistent with the character’s job; a character-based neutral condition, narrating the action of a character presented by his/her proper name without information about his/her job. Results comparing the ERPs elicited by the experimental conditions revealed a greater negative amplitude of the N400 in the right temporal regions in response to the character-based incongruent compared to the character-based congruent narratives. This finding shows that implicit background character-based information affects the N400, with readers rapidly using this information to comprehend narratives.
- Narrative processing