Temporal Interaction of Emotional Prosody and Emotional Semantics: Evidence from ERPs

  • Paulmann S
  • Kotz S
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Abstract

Emotional prosody carries information about the inner state of a speaker and therefore helps us to understand how other people feel. However, emotions are also transferred verbally. In order to further substantiate the underlying mechanisms of emotional prosodic processing we investigated the interaction of both emotional prosody and emotional semantics with eventrelated brain potentials (ERPs) utilizing a prosodic and interactive (prosodic/semantic) violation paradigm. Results suggest that the time-course of emotional prosodic processing and emotional semantics differ. While a pure violation of a prosodic contour elicited a positivity between 450 ms and 600 ms, a violation of both emotional prosody and semantics elicited a negativity between 500 ms and 650 ms. These results suggest that emotional prosody and emotional semantics follow a different time-course. This holds true for all emotional prosodies (anger, disgust, fear, happy, pleasant surprise, sad) investigated. As the two conditions elicited two different electrophysiological components, the obtained results suggest that emotional prosody and semantics contribute differentially during the interaction of both information types. Furthermore, the data suggest that semantic information can override prosody when the two channels interact in time, that is, when the emotional prosodic contour agrees with the semantic content of a sentence.

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Authors

  • Silke Paulmann

  • Sonja A. Kotz

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