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The Effect of Emotional State on the Processing of Morphosyntactic and Semantic Reversal Anomalies in Japanese: Evidence from Event-Related Brain Potentials

Abstract

The present study examined the locus responsible for the effect of emotional state on sentence processing in healthy native speakers of Japanese, using event-related brain potentials. The participants were induced into a happy, neutral, or sad mood and then subjected to electroencephalogram recording during which emotionally neutral sentences, including grammatical sentences (e.g. window-NOM close vi, ‘The window closes.’), morphosyntactically-violated sentences (e.g. window-ACC close vi, Lit. ‘Close the window.’), and semantically-reversed sentences (e.g. window-NOM close vt, ‘The window closes pro.’) were presented. The results of the ERP experiment demonstrated that while the P600 effect elicited by morphosyntactic violation was not modulated by mood, the P600 effect elicited by semantic reversal anomaly was observed only in participants previously induced into a happy mood. The LAN and N400 were not sensitive to the participants’ transient emotional state. These results suggest intact memory access and impaired integration of syntactic and semantic information in individuals in a sad mood.

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Notes

  1. A similar pattern was reported in schizophrenia patients (Kuperberg et al. 2006a). These patients showed an N400 effect for semantic violation. Although they exhibited a P600 effect for morphosyntactic violation, this effect decreased for semantic reversal anomaly, such as ‘For breakfast, the eggs would only eat ...’ (see also Kuperberg et al. 2006b; Lee et al. 2016; Sitnikova et al. 2002).

  2. Jiménez-Ortega et al. (2012) suggest that the procedure of mood induction (linguistic or non-linguistic visual stimuli) may play an important role in determining which areas of the brain become activated, and this difference may account for the discrepancy between their result and that by Vissers et al.’s (2010) (see Jiménez-Ortega et al. 2012: 9).

  3. A factor that might underlie the discrepancy between these N400 studies is participants’ sex (cf. Federmeier et al. 2001). In Chwilla et al. (2011), only female speakers were recruited in their experiment, as in Vissers et al. (2010, 2013) and Verhees et al. (2015). However, both female and male speakers participated in Jiménz-Ortega et al.’s (2012) experiment, and only male speakers participated in Pinheiro et al.’s (2013) experiment.

  4. Vissers et al. (2013) and Verhees et al. (2015) made a similar suggestion in terms of heuristic processing. For example, Vissers et al. (2013: 1036) proposed that “the presence of a clear P600 effect in the happy mood condition reflects the use of heuristics, while the absence of the P600 effect in the sad mood condition reflects that sad participants do not use heuristics while reading semantically implausible sentences.” However, our claim differs from that of Vissers et al. (2013) in two aspects. First, Vissers et al. (2013) argued that the mood affects the processing of syntactic and semantic reversal anomalies in a similar way, as they did not detect a three-way interaction of mood (happy vs. sad: a between-participant factor) \(\times \) anomaly type (syntactic vs. semantic: a between-participant factor) \(\times \) condition (grammatical vs. ungrammatical: a within-participant factor) when combining their data and those by Vissers et al.’s (2010). However, the absence of a significant interaction with between-participant factors does not necessarily imply that syntactic and semantic processing are similarly affected by mood. Second, Vissers et al. (2013) have posited heuristic processing based on syntactic expectancy, unlike the multi-stream model.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (#15H02603, PI: Masatoshi Koizumi) and a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Research Fellows (#13J04854, PI: Masataka Yano). We would like to thank an anonymous reviewer and Kyoshiro Sasaki for their valuable comments.

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Correspondence to Masataka Yano.

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This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University.

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Masataka Yano and Yui Suzuki have contributed equally to this work.

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Yano, M., Suzuki, Y. & Koizumi, M. The Effect of Emotional State on the Processing of Morphosyntactic and Semantic Reversal Anomalies in Japanese: Evidence from Event-Related Brain Potentials. J Psycholinguist Res 47, 261–277 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-017-9528-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-017-9528-5

Keywords

  • Sentence comprehension
  • Mood
  • Event-related brain potentials (ERPs)
  • P600
  • LAN
  • Morphosyntactic violation
  • Semantic reversal anomaly