abstract Annekathrin Schacht

Annekathrin Schacht (CRC Text Structures, Göttingen University, Germany)

Language and Emotion.

In recent neurocognitive research, the processing of emotions that are elicited in different stimulus domains has received special interest. Emotional stimuli are assumed to involuntarily draw attentional resources due to their high intrinsic relevance, resulting in preferential and sustained processing. As compared to natural sources of emotions, reading of printed language requires the translation of arbitrary symbols into meaning. In a series of experiments, we aimed to functionally localize the effects of emotional meaning in visual word processing and to specify their underlying neural mechanisms as well as their boundary conditions. Similar to affective pictures and facial expressions, words of different valence elicit emotion-related components of event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which are distinguishable with regard to their temporal and spatial distributions and can therefore be related to different stages within the information-processing stream. Importantly, these emotion effects differentially depend on several factors defined by task demands and linguistic stimulus characteristics. These findings demonstrate that emotional meaning affects the reader’s mind already on the level of single words. The complex pattern of this impact and its implications for the processing of larger linguistic units such as narrative texts will be discussed.