The interplay between mood and language comprehension: Evidence from P600 to semantic reversal anomalies
SourceNeuropsychologia, 51, 6, (2013), pp. 1027-1039
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 1: Language and Communication; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Psycholinguistics; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Little is known about the relationship between language and emotion. Vissers et al. (2010) investigated the effects of mood on the processing of syntactic violations, as indexed by P600. An interaction was observed between mood and syntactic correctness for which three explanations were offered: one in terms of syntactic processing, one in terms of heuristic processing, and one in terms of more general factors like attention and/or motivation. In this experiment, we further determined the locus of the effects of emotional state on language comprehension by investigating the effects of mood on the processing of semantic reversal anomalies (e.g., "the cat that fled from the mice"), in which heuristics play a key role. The main findings were as follows. The mood induction was effective: participants were happier after watching happy film clips and sadder after watching sad film clips compared to baseline. For P600, a mood by semantic plausibility interaction was obtained reflecting a broadly distributed P600 effect for the happy mood vs. absence of a P600 for the sad mood condition. Correlation analyses confirmed that changes in P600 in happy mood were accompanied by changes in emotional state. Given that semantic reversal anomalies are syntactically unambiguous, the P600 modulation by mood cannot be explained by syntactic factors. The semantic plausibility by mood interaction can be accounted for in terms of (1) heuristic processing (stronger reliance on a good enough representation of the input in happy mood than sad mood), and/or (2) more general factors like attention (e.g., more attention to semantic reversals in happy mood than sad mood).
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