(Cognitive processing of negations)


The goal of this project is to investigate the cognitive processing of various negative sentences in Croatian and to compare the results with other languages. Moreover, the project aims to outline a new Cue-step theoretical model that accounts for the cognitive processing of negations. Prior studies focused on the processing of implicit negations and effects of truth value on affirmations and sentential negations, what might be partially attributed to the lack of knowledge about linguistic cues that drive the processing of negations. NegRi project is focusing on explicit negations: double and lexical negation, and negative concord. It is investigating whether the processing of lexical and double negations and negative concord depend on syntactic and semantic cues. To accomplish that goal, the project is combining behavioral and EEG/ERPs experiments.

Team Members


Ćoso, B. & Bogunović, I. (2021). An experimental approach to negations: studies in Croatian ad their contribution to the models of processing negation. Fluminensia, 33(2), 359-385. (WOS)

Negations can be found in almost all world languages, and they are well described within linguistic theories. The underlying cognitive processing of negations has been researched from the psycholinguistics perspective. Most of the existing research used behavioural methodology and sentence-picture verification tasks in assessing negation processing. First investigations made during the 1970s, showed that affirmative sentences are remembered better, and processed faster and more accurately when compared to negations. The new line of research conducted at the beginning of the new century aimed to discover the cognitive processes underlying these differences. Different authors proposed several models to explain the differences. Still, new research has revealed additional differences in processing various negations which might not be explained by the extant models. Recent investigations in the Croatian language have added to these assumptions, as they have revealed differences in the processing of various negations which might depend on several linguistic cues, e.g., position in the sentence, type, and number of negative markers. As Croatian allows double negations and negative concord as regular grammatical forms, it seems important to continue the research in Croatian. Usage of relatively new methods borrowed from cognitive neuroscience might give insight into neurological mechanisms of negation processing, and possibly help widen the existing models. The present study aims to present the existing research on negation processing in Croatian and other languages, compare the existing models of negation processing, and to discuss the adequacy of experimental tasks used in research. Finally, it aims to propose guidelines for further research of negations in the Croatian language.

Ćoso, B. & Bogunović, I. (2019). The role of linguistic cues in bilingual negation processing. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23, 21-36. (WOS)

Aims and objectives: A vast body of research has dealt with negation processing. There are many differences between negations across languages, which could influence negation processing in bilingual speakers. However, bilingual negation processing has rarely been experimentally investigated. This study aims at exploring whether highly proficient Croatian-English bilinguals are able to adequately adopt English negations, and whether linguistic cues from both languages have similar effect on negation processing.

Methodology: A sentence–picture verification task was used to investigate the processing of affirmative sentences, sentential and constituent negations, Croatian negative concord and English sentences with negated subject.

Data and analysis: 2 (language) × 4 (sentence type) × 2 (congruency) ANOVA with repeated measures was used to analyze the data.

Findings: The results showed that the effect of language was not significant, except in the case of constituent negations which were processed faster in English. There was a significant difference between the processing of affirmative and negative sentences, as affirmatives were processed faster than negatives in both languages. Constituent negations in both languages were processed slower compared with other types of negations.

Originality: The results suggest that strong linguistic cues, such as word order and quantifiers, influence negation processing in both languages, resulting in differences between different types of negations. The results are discussed in the light of two existing models of negation and sentence processing. A new model, as a combination of these two models, is proposed.

Implications: The fact that there was no significant difference in negation processing between the bilinguals’ two languages supports the view that highly proficient successive bilinguals are able to adequately adopt negations in both their languages.

Ćoso, B. & Bogunović, I. (2016). Cognitive processing of verbal quantifiers in the context of affirmative and negative sentences: a Croatian study. Research in language, 14, 203-220. (SCOPUS)

Studies from English and German have found differences in the processing of affirmative and negative sentences. However, little attention has been given to quantifiers that form negations. A picture-sentence verification task was used to investigate the processing of different types of quantifiers in Croatian: universal quantifiers in affirmative sentences (e.g. all), non-universal quantifiers in compositional negations (e.g. not all), null quantifiers in negative concord (e.g. none) and relative disproportionate quantifiers in both affirmative and negative sentences (e.g. some). The results showed that non-universal and null quantifiers, as well as negations were processed significantly slower compared to affirmative sentences, which is in line with previous findings supporting the two-step model. The results also confirmed that more complex tasks require a longer reaction time. A significant difference in the processing of same-polarity sentences with first-order quantifiers was observed: sentences with null quantifiers were processed faster and more accurately than sentences with disproportional and non-universal quantifiers. A difference in reaction time was also found in affirmatives with different quantifiers: sentences with universal quantifiers were processed significantly faster and more accurately compared to sentences with relative disproportionate quantifiers. These findings indicate that the processing of quantifiers follows after the processing of affirmative information. In the context of the two-step model, the processing of quantifiers occurs in the second step, along with negations.


Ćoso, B. & Bogunović, I. (2021). Do Asian languages as L1 influence the processing of negation in English as L2? Evidence from Cambodian sample. 17th Annual CamTESOL Conference: Actions and Innovations in Teaching and Learning, Mao, Sreng (Ed.), IDP, 2021, LRS21015, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 5-7.02.2021.

Ćoso, B. (2014). Cognitive processing of various Croatian negations. European Campus of Excellence, Memory and mind summer school, RUB, Bochum, Germany, 7.-20.9.2014.

Ćoso, B., Matešić, K. & Bogunović, I. (2014). Cognitive processing of verbal quantifiers in affirmative and negative sentences. XIX. Psychology days in Zadar, paper summaries, Zadar, Croatia, 29.-31.5.2014.


Seal of Excellence for MSCA proposal, European Commission, February 2019.

Seal of Excellence for MSCA proposal, European Commission, January 2017.

European Campus of Excellence, Memory, and mind, Bochum, Germany, September 2014.