The role of neuronal oscillations during language comprehension is not yet well understood. In this paper we review and reinterpret the functional roles of beta- and gamma-band oscillatory activity during language comprehension at the sentence and discourse level. We discuss the evidence in favor of a role for beta and gamma in unification (the unification hypothesis), and in light of mounting evidence that cannot be accounted for under this hypothesis, we explore an alternative proposal linking beta and gamma oscillations to maintenance and prediction (respectively) during language comprehension. Our maintenance/prediction hypothesis is able to account for most of the findings that are currently available relating beta and gamma oscillations to language comprehension, and is in good agreement with other proposals about the roles of beta and gamma in domain-general cognitive processing. In conclusion we discuss proposals for further testing and comparing the prediction and unification hypotheses.
- Language comprehension
- Oscillatory dynamics