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Behav. Sci. 2013, 3(3), 372-387; doi:10.3390/bs3030372

Emotional Verbal Fluency: A New Task on Emotion and Executive Function Interaction

1,* , 2,3,†
Received: 3 May 2013 / Revised: 21 June 2013 / Accepted: 24 June 2013 / Published: 12 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Perspectives on Emotion, Behavior, and Cognition)
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The present study introduces “Emotional Verbal Fluency” as a novel (partially computerized) task, which is aimed to investigate the interaction between emotionally loaded words and executive functions. Verbal fluency tasks are thought to measure executive functions but the interaction with emotional aspects is hardly investigated. In the current study, a group of healthy subjects (n = 21, mean age 25 years, 76% females) were asked to generate items that are either part of a semantic category (e.g., plants, toys, vehicles; standard semantic verbal fluency) or can trigger the emotions joy, anger, sadness, fear and disgust. The results of the task revealed no differences between performance on semantic and emotional categories, suggesting a comparable task difficulty for healthy subjects. Hence, these first results on the comparison between semantic and emotional verbal fluency seem to highlight that both might be suitable for examining executive functioning. However, an interaction was found between the category type and repetition (first vs. second sequence of the same category) with larger performance decrease for semantic in comparison to emotional categories. Best performance overall was found for the emotional category “joy” suggesting a positivity bias in healthy subjects. To conclude, emotional verbal fluency is a promising approach to investigate emotional components in an executive task, which may stimulate further research, especially in psychiatric patients who suffer from emotional as well as cognitive deficits.
Keywords: verbal fluency; executive functions; emotion; emotion-cognition interaction; semantic verbal fluency; executive functions; emotion; emotion-cognition interaction; semantic
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Sass, K.; Fetz, K.; Oetken, S.; Habel, U.; Heim, S. Emotional Verbal Fluency: A New Task on Emotion and Executive Function Interaction. Behav. Sci. 2013, 3, 372-387.

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