Emotion and attention in visual word processing - An ERP study

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2009
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Herbert, Cornelia
Winkler, Irene
Junghöfer, Markus
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Emotional words are preferentially processed during silent reading. Here, we investigate to what extent different components of the visual evoked potential, namely the P1, N1, the early posterior negativity (EPN, around 250 ms after word onset) as well as the late positive complex (LPC, around 500 ms) respond differentially to emotional words and whether this response depends on the availability of attentional resources. Subjects viewed random sequences of pleasant, neutral and unpleasant adjectives and nouns. They were first instructed to simply read the words and then to count either adjectives or nouns. No consistent effects emerged for the P1 and N1. However, during both reading and counting the EPN was enhanced for emotionally arousing words (pleasant and unpleasant), regardless of whether the word belonged to a target or a non-target category. A task effect on the EPN was restricted to adjectives, but the effect did not interact with emotional content. The later centro-parietal LPC (450 650 ms) showed a large enhancement for the attended word class. A small and topographically distinct emotion-LPC effect was found specifically in response to pleasant words, both during silent reading and the active task. Thus, emotional word content is processed effortlessly and automatically and is not subject to interference from a primary grammatical decision task. The results are in line with other reports of early automatic semantic processing as reflected by posterior negativities in the ERP around 250 ms after word onset. Implications for models of emotion attention interactions in the brain are discussed.

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Fachgebiet (DDC)
150 Psychologie
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Emotion, Reading, Attention, P1, N1, Early posterior negativity, Recognition potential, Late positive complex
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ISO 690KISSLER, Johanna, Cornelia HERBERT, Irene WINKLER, Markus JUNGHÖFER, 2009. Emotion and attention in visual word processing - An ERP study. In: Biological Psychology. 2009, 80(1), pp. 75-83. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.03.004
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@article{Kissler2009Emoti-1285,
  year={2009},
  doi={10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.03.004},
  title={Emotion and attention in visual word processing - An ERP study},
  number={1},
  volume={80},
  journal={Biological Psychology},
  pages={75--83},
  author={Kissler, Johanna and Herbert, Cornelia and Winkler, Irene and Junghöfer, Markus}
}
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