ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (4): 427-437.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00427

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Emotional Prosody Modulates the Recognition of Affective Word: An ERP Study

ZHENG Zhiwei;HUANG Xianjun;ZHANG Qin   

  1. (1 Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition and Department of Psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China) (2 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China)
  • Received:2012-06-18 Published:2013-04-25 Online:2013-04-25
  • Contact: HUANG Xianjun

Abstract: An important difference between spoken language and written language is that spoken language carries prosodic information. Previous studies investigated how speech prosody modulated syntactic processing and discourse comprehension, but few studies examined the roles of emotional prosody in speech processing. This study investigated the time course of the processing of emotional spoken speech of Mandarin, and explored that how emotional prosody modulated the processing of spoken word using the technique of event-related potential and prosody/word interference paradigm. Thirty-two college students participated in this study, sixteen of them for the first experiment, and the rest for the second one. We used positive and negative words spoken with affectively congruent or incongruent prosody as study materials. Participants completed a delayed matching task. They were asked to judge that whether the spoken word matched the subsequent presented visual word. We recorded the EEG evoked by emotional spoken words. The emotional prosody was blocked presented (Experiment 1) or mixed presented (Experiment 2). The ERP results were analyzed by four-way repeated-measure ANOVA. The ERP results of Experiment 1 indicated that at the time window of 150~250ms after the onset of spoken word, the congruent affective word evoked a more positive P2 than incongruent affective word under both conditions of happy and sad prosody, and the scalp distribution of the P2 effect was broad. At the time window of 250~550ms, the incongruent affective word evoked more negative N300 (early N400) and N400 than congruent affective word. The N300 effect spread widely and the scalp distribution of N400 effect was modulated by the emotional prosody. The N400 effect of happy prosody distributed over the whole scalp while that of sad prosody mainly distributed at the parietal-occipital area. Experiment 2 showed similar results. The incongruent affective word evoked P2 effect, but only at the condition of sad prosody. The incongruent affective word evoked N300 and N400 effect independent of valence of emotional prosody, and both effects were bilaterally distributed over the whole scalp. These findings suggest that the emotional prosody modulates the processing of affective word at real-time. The emotional prosody can facilitate both of the processing of phonology and the retrieval of semantics. This study emphasizes the effects of facilitation of emotional prosody on the processing of spoken word, which begin at the stage of phonological processing.

Key words: emotional prosody, affective word, prosody/word interference paradigm, delayed matching task, event-related potential (ERP)