Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

Rapid Processing of Emotional and Voice Information as Evidenced by ERPs

Silke Paulmann (1), Patricia Schmidt (2), Marc Pell (1), Sonja A. Kotz (2)

(1) McGill University, School of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Montreal, Canada
(2) Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Next to linguistic content, the human voice carries speaker identity information (e.g. female/male, young/old) and can also carry emotional information. Although various studies have started to specify the brain regions that underlie the different functions of human voice processing, few studies have aimed to specify the time course underlying these processes. By means of event-related potentials (ERPs) we aimed to determine the time-course of neural responses to emotional speech, speaker identification, and their interplay. While engaged in an implicit voice processing task (probe verification) participants listened to emotional sentences spoken by two female and two male speakers of two different ages (young and middle-aged). For all four speakers rapid emotional decoding was observed as emotional sentences could be differentiated from neutral sentences already within 200 ms after sentence onset (P200). However, results also imply that individual capacity to encode emotional expressions may have an influence on this early emotion detection as the P200 differentiation pattern (neutral vs. emotion) differed for each individual speaker.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Paulmann, Silke / Schmidt, Patricia / Pell, Marc / Kotz, Sonja A. (2008): "Rapid processing of emotional and voice information as evidenced by ERPs", In SP-2008, 205-209.