N400 incongruity effect in an episodic memory task reveals different strategies for handling irrelevant contextual information for Japanese than European Canadians

Takahiko Masuda, Matthew J. Russell, Yvonne Y. Chen, Koichi Hioki, Jeremy B. Caplan
2013 Cognitive Neuroscience  
East Asians/Asian Americans show a greater N400 effect due to semantic incongruity between foreground objects and background contexts than European Americans (Goto, Ando, Huang, Yee, & Lewis, 2010). Using analytic attention instructions, we asked Japanese and European Canadians to judge, and later, remember, target animals that were paired with task-irrelevant original (congruent), or novel (incongruent) contexts. We asked: (1) whether the N400 also shows an episodic incongruity effect, due to
more » ... etrieved contexts conflicting with later-shown novel contexts; and (2) whether the incongruity effect would be more related to performance for Japanese, who have been shown to have more difficulty ignoring such contextual information. Both groups exhibited episodic incongruity effects on the N400, with Japanese showing more typical N400 topographies. However, incongruent-trial accuracy was related to reduction of N400s only for the Japanese. Thus, we found that the N400 can reflect episodic incongruity which poses a greater challenge to Japanese than European Canadians.
doi:10.1080/17588928.2013.831819 pmid:24168198 fatcat:bjoguormfjeahhyxk3hppb257a