Interactions between mood and the structure of semantic memory: event-related potentials evidence


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Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that affect acts as modulator of cognitive processes and in particular that induced mood has an effect on the way semantic memory is used on-line. We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine affective modulation of semantic information processing under three different moods: neutral, positive and negative. Fifteen subjects read 324 pairs of sentences, after mood induction procedure with 30 pictures of neutral, 30 pictures of positive and 30 pictures of neutral valence: 108 sentences were read in each mood induction condition. Sentences ended with three word types: expected words, within-category violations, and between-category violations. N400 amplitude was measured to the three word types under each mood induction condition. Under neutral mood, a congruency (more negative N400 amplitude for unexpected relative to expected endings) and a category effect (more negative N400 amplitude for between- than to within-category violations) were observed. Also, results showed differences in N400 amplitude for both within- and between-category violations as a function of mood: while positive mood tended to facilitate the integration of unexpected but related items, negative mood made their integration as difficult as unexpected and unrelated items. These findings suggest the differential impact of mood on access to long-term semantic memory during sentence comprehension.

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