Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Science (BS)
Gregory D. Smith
Cheryl L. Dickter
Auditory processing of emotion in speech is a complex, multistep process beginning with encoding of sound in the auditory cortex. The present study aimed to demonstrate that emotional auditory stimuli are more salient and therefore produce a larger neural response than neutral auditory stimuli even at the level of the primary auditory cortex. To test this hypothesis, electroencephalography (EEG) was used to collect data from forty five undergraduates (28 Female, Mean age =19.9). The study measured the mismatch negativity (MMN) generated in response to an optimal oddball paradigm comprised of emotional (i.e., happy, sad) and neutral tones. Data indicated that tones of higher frequency elicited significantly larger MMNs regardless of other factors (F(1,32) = 4.68, p < 0.05) however, no significant effect of emotional valence was found. Our findings would suggest that emotional content is not encoded as early as the primary auditory cortex, but further research is necessary to address possible confounding factors in order to elucidate the data.
Gal, Diana, "Evaluating the Mismatch Negativity Response to Emotionally Salient, Frequency Modulated Tones" (2012). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 507.
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