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Brain Lang. 2003 Sep;86(3):366-76.

On the lateralization of emotional prosody: an event-related functional MR investigation.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Stephanstrasse 1a, P.O. Box 500355, Leipzig D-04317, Germany.


In order to investigate the lateralization of emotional speech we recorded the brain responses to three emotional intonations in two conditions, i.e., "normal" speech and "prosodic" speech (i.e., speech with no linguistic meaning, but retaining the 'slow prosodic modulations' of speech). Participants listened to semantically neutral sentences spoken with a positive, neutral, or negative intonation in both conditions and judged how positive, negative, or neutral the intonation was on a five-point scale. Core peri-sylvian language areas, as well as some frontal and subcortical areas were activated bilaterally in the normal speech condition. In contrast, a bilateral fronto-opercular region was active when participants listened to prosodic speech. Positive and negative intonations elicited a bilateral fronto-temporal and subcortical pattern in the normal speech condition, and more frontal activation in the prosodic speech condition. The current results call into question an exclusive right hemisphere lateralization of emotional prosody and expand patient data on the functional role of the basal ganglia during the perception of emotional prosody.

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