Poster A126, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Accessing General World Knowledge in Language Comprehension: The Case of Emotion
Dorothee J. Chwilla1; 1Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University
Emotional context has been shown to influence semantic processing. A mood-related N400 modulation has been reported to different semantic mismatches. Recent work indicates that mood also impacts processing of more abstract script knowledge. In this study we ask whether mood affects the processing of general world knowledge. This was accomplished by studying the processing of words that fit people’s general world knowledge or violate world knowledge (e.g., “The writer Shakespeare wrote many sonnets/melodies ….” compared to a semantic violation (coats). Mood (happy vs. sad) was manipulated by presenting video clips. EEG was recorded while participants read sentences. The mood manipulation effectively induced a happy and sad mood. Across moods, N400 showed a graded pattern: its amplitude was largest for the semantic violation, reduced for world knowledge violations and smallest for words fitting world knowledge. While the ERPs in the standard N400 window (300-500 ms) were not modulated by mood, a mood by condition interaction occurred for the 200 to 300 ms window. The interaction reflected an early onset of the N400 effects for sad mood (larger amplitudes for the semantic and world knowledge violations relative to words fitting world knowledge) but absence of these effects for happy mood. This finding reveals that mood immediately affects processing of general world knowledge. In contrast with semantic knowledge and script knowledge, the effect of mood on general world knowledge was limited to the early N400 window. The implications of these findings for heuristic frameworks on the interplay between emotion and language are discussed.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions