Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Examining the Neural Mechanisms Involved in the Affective and Pragmatic Coding of Prosody

Didier Grandjean, Klaus R. Scherer

Swiss Centre of Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland

The vocal expression of humans includes expressions of emotions, such as anger or happiness, and pragmatic intonations, such as interrogative or affirmative, embedded within the language. These two types of prosody are differently affected by the so-called push and pull effects. Push effects, influenced by psychophysiological activities, strongly affect emotional prosody, whereas pull effects, influenced by cultural rules of expression, predominantly affect intonation or pragmatic prosody, even though both processes influence all prosodic production. Two empirical studies are described that exemplify the possibilities of dissociating emotional and linguistic prosody decoding at the neurological level. The first study was conducted to investigate the impairments in prosody recognition related to left or right temporo-parietal brain-damaged patients. The second study used electroencephalography in healthy participants to investigate the timing of information processing during emotional and linguistic prosody recognition tasks. The results highlight the importance of considering not only the distinction of different types of prosody, but also the relevance of the task realized by the participants to better understand information processes related to human vocal expression at the suprasegmental level.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Grandjean, Didier / Scherer, Klaus R. (2006): "Examining the neural mechanisms involved in the affective and pragmatic coding of prosody", In SP-2006, paper 268.