Previous event-related potentials (ERP) studies on the processing of emotional information in sentence/discourse context have yielded inconsistent findings. An important reason for the discrepancies is the different lexico-semantic properties of the emotional words. The present study controlled for the lexico-semantic meaning of emotional information by endowing the same person names with either positive or negative valence. ERPs were computed for positively and negatively valenced person names that were either congruent or incongruent to previous emotional contexts. We found that positive names elicited an N400 effect while negative names elicited a P600 effect in response to the incongruence. These results suggest that the integration of positive and negative information into emotional context exhibits different time courses, with a relatively delayed integration for negative information. Our study demonstrates that using person names constitutes a new and improved tool for investigating the integration of emotional information into context.
- Emotional salience
- Person names