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Psychol Sci. 2007 Jun;18(6):475-80.

Buzzwords: early cortical responses to emotional words during reading.

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Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany.


Electroencephalographic event-related brain potentials were recorded as subjects read, without further instruction, consecutively presented sequences of words. We varied the speed at which the sequences were presented (3 Hz and 1 Hz) and the words' emotional significance. Early event-related cortical responses during reading differentiated pleasant and unpleasant words from neutral words. Emotional words were associated with enhanced brain responses arising in predominantly left occipito-temporal areas 200 to 300 ms after presentation. Emotional words were also spontaneously better remembered than neutral words. The early cortical amplification was stable across 10 repetitions, providing evidence for robust enhancement of early visual processing of stimuli with learned emotional significance and underscoring the salience of emotional connotations during reading. During early processing stages, emotion-related enhancement of cortical activity along the dominant processing pathway is due to arousal, rather than valence of the stimuli. This enhancement may be driven by cortico-amygdaloid connections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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