When emotional prosody and semantics dance cheek to cheek: ERP evidence

Sonja A. Kotz, Silke Paulmann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    To communicate emotionally entails that a listener understands a verbal message but also the emotional prosody going along with it. So far the time course and interaction of these emotional 'channels' is still poorly understood. The current set of event-related brain potential (ERP) experiments investigated both the interactive time course of emotional prosody with semantics and of emotional prosody independent of emotional semantics using a cross-splicing method. In a probe verification task (Experiment 1) prosodic expectancy violations elicited a positivity, while a combined prosodic-semantic expectancy violation elicited a negativity. Comparable ERP results were obtained in an emotional prosodic categorization task (Experiment 2). The present data support different ERP responses with distinct time courses and topographies elicited as a function of prosodic expectancy and combined prosodic-semantic expectancy during emotional prosodic processing and combined emotional prosody/emotional semantic processing. These differences suggest that the interaction of more than one emotional channel facilitates subtle transitions in an emotional sentence context. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-118
    Number of pages11
    JournalBrain research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2007


    • Emotional prosody
    • Emotional semantics
    • Event-related potentials
    • Hemispheric specialization
    • N400
    • Prosodic positivities


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