Brain Topography

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 303–311 | Cite as

Topographical Subcomponents of Electrical Brain Activity Allow to Identify Semantic Learning

Original Paper


We investigated the change of event-related brain activity elicited by reading meaningful or meaningless Japanese symbols in 20 healthy German adults. In a learning phase of about 20 min, subjects acquired the meaning of 20 Kanji characters. As control stimuli 20 different Kanji characters were presented. Electrical brain activity was obtained before and after learning, The mean learning performance of all subjects was 92.5% correct responses. EEG was measured simultaneously from 30 channels, artifacts were removed offline, and the data before and after learning were compared. We found five spatial principal components that accounted for 83.8% of the variance. A significant interaction between training time (before/after learning) and stimulus (learning/control) illustrates a significant relation between successful learning and topographical changes of brain activity elicited by Kanji characters. Effects that were induced by learning were seen at short latencies in the order of 100 ms. In addition, we present evidence that differences in the weighted combination of spatial components allow to identify experimental conditions successfully by linear discriminant analysis using topographical ERP data of a single time point. In conclusion, semantic meaning can be aquired rapidly and it is associated with specific changes of ERP components.


Semantic learning Japanese Kanji EEG/ERP Topography Spatial principal components Discriminant analysis 



We wish to thank Ms. P. Bagherzadeh for assistance with data collection and Dr. A. Klein for help with the graphics format and comments on the text. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhysiologyJustus-Liebig UniversityGiessenGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of PsychologyRissho UniversityShinagawaJapan

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