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Brain Sci. 2018, 8(6), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8060094

The Sound of Words Evokes Affective Brain Responses

1
Department of Experimental and Neurocognitive Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, D–14195 Berlin, Germany
2
Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, PA 16802, USA
3
Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience Berlin (CCNB), Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, D–14195 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 17 May 2018 / Accepted: 21 May 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
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Abstract

The long history of poetry and the arts, as well as recent empirical results suggest that the way a word sounds (e.g., soft vs. harsh) can convey affective information related to emotional responses (e.g., pleasantness vs. harshness). However, the neural correlates of the affective potential of the sound of words remain unknown. In an fMRI study involving passive listening, we focused on the affective dimension of arousal and presented words organized in two discrete groups of sublexical (i.e., sound) arousal (high vs. low), while controlling for lexical (i.e., semantic) arousal. Words sounding high arousing, compared to their low arousing counterparts, resulted in an enhanced BOLD signal in bilateral posterior insula, the right auditory and premotor cortex, and the right supramarginal gyrus. This finding provides first evidence on the neural correlates of affectivity in the sound of words. Given the similarity of this neural network to that of nonverbal emotional expressions and affective prosody, our results support a unifying view that suggests a core neural network underlying any type of affective sound processing. View Full-Text
Keywords: affective sound; affective potential of sound; sound-meaning; phonoaesthetics; sublexical arousal; unifying neural network; neurocognitive poetics affective sound; affective potential of sound; sound-meaning; phonoaesthetics; sublexical arousal; unifying neural network; neurocognitive poetics
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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. (CC BY 4.0).
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Aryani, A.; Hsu, C.-T.; Jacobs, A.M. The Sound of Words Evokes Affective Brain Responses. Brain Sci. 2018, 8, 94.

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