Infants' electric brain responses to emotional prosody

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In the current study, we examined 7-month-old infants' processing of emotional prosody using event-related brain potentials. Infants heard semantically neutral words that were spoken with either a happy, angry, or neutral voice. The event-related brain potential data revealed that angry prosody elicited a more negative response in infants' event-related potentials than did happy or neutral prosody, suggesting greater allocation of attention to angry prosody. A positive slow wave was elicited by angry and happy prosody over temporal electrode sites. This indicates an enhanced sensory processing of the emotionally loaded stimuli (happy and angry). The current findings demonstrate that very early in development, the human brain detects emotionally loaded words and shows differential attentional responses depending on their emotional valence.

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