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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2005 Aug;24(3):442-52. Epub 2005 Apr 9.

On the role of attention for the processing of emotions in speech: sex differences revisited.

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1
Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, 30602 Georgia, USA. schirmer@uga.edu

Abstract

In a previous cross-modal priming study [A. Schirmer, A.S. Kotz, A.D. Friederici, Sex differentiates the role of emotional prosody during word processing, Cogn. Brain Res. 14 (2002) 228-233.], we found that women integrated emotional prosody and word valence earlier than men. Both sexes showed a smaller N400 in the event-related potential to emotional words when these words were preceded by a sentence with congruous compared to incongruous emotional prosody. However, women showed this effect with a 200-ms interval between prime sentence and target word whereas men showed the effect with a 750-ms interval. The present study was designed to determine whether these sex differences prevail when attention is directed towards the emotional content of prosody and word meaning. To this end, we presented the same prime sentences and target words as in our previous study. Sentences were spoken with happy or sad prosody and followed by a congruous or incongruous emotional word or pseudoword. The interval between sentence offset and target onset was 200 ms. In addition to performing a lexical decision, participants were asked to decide whether or not a word matched the emotional prosody of the preceding sentence. The combined lexical and congruence judgment failed to reveal differences in emotional-prosodic priming between men and women. Both sexes showed smaller N400 amplitudes to emotionally congruent compared to incongruent words. This suggests that the presence of sex differences in emotional-prosodic priming depends on whether or not participants are instructed to take emotional prosody into account.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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