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The way you say it, the way I feel it: emotional word processing in accented speech

Abstract : The present study examined whether processing words with affective connotations in a listener's native language may be modulated by accented speech. To address this question, we used the Event Related Potential (ERP) technique and recorded the cerebral activity of Spanish native listeners, who performed a semantic categorization task, while listening to positive, negative and neutral words produced in standard Spanish or in four foreign accents. The behavioral results yielded longer latencies for emotional than for neutral words in both native and foreign-accented speech, with no difference between positive and negative words. The electrophysiological results replicated previous findings from the emotional language literature, with the amplitude of the Late Positive Complex (LPC), associated with emotional language processing, being larger (more positive) for emotional than for neutral words at posterior scalp sites. Interestingly, foreign-accented speech was found to interfere with the processing of positive valence and go along with a negativity bias, possibly suggesting heightened attention to negative words. The manipulation employed in the present study provides an interesting perspective on the effects of accented speech on processing affective-laden information. It shows that higher order semantic processes that involve emotion-related aspects are sensitive to a speaker's accent.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 19, 2015 - 10:11:06 AM
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Anna Hatzidaki, Cristina Baus, Albert Costa. The way you say it, the way I feel it: emotional word processing in accented speech. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2015, 6 (351), ⟨10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00351⟩. ⟨hal-01217130⟩

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