Alpha band event-related desynchronization underlying social situational context processing during irony comprehension: A magnetoencephalography source localization study

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HighlightsWe elucidate the temporospatial neural mechanisms of irony processing.We examined alpha band activity occurring 600–900 ms after stimulus onset.Irony increases right anterior temporal lobe alpha event-related desynchronization.Communication skills correlate with left anterior temporal lobe alpha power.Irony comprehension requires integration of social contextual information. Previous studies have investigated temporal aspects of irony processing and its neural substrates using psychological/electroencephalogram or functional magnetic resonance imaging methods, but have not clarified the temporospatial neural mechanisms of irony comprehension. Therefore, we used magnetoencephalography to investigate the neural generators of alpha-band (8–13 Hz) event-related desynchronization (ERD) occurring from 600 to 900 ms following the onset of a critical sentence at which social situational contexts activated ironic representation. We found that the right anterior temporal lobe, which is involved in processing social knowledge and evaluating others’ intentions, exhibited stronger alpha ERD following an ironic statement than following a literal statement. We also found that alpha power in the left anterior temporal lobe correlated with the participants’ communication abilities. These results elucidate the temporospatial neural mechanisms of language comprehension in social contexts, including non-literal processing.

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