Attention and regulation during emotional word comprehension in older adults: Evidence from event-related potentials and brain oscillations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Older adults often show a positivity bias effect during picture processing, focusing more on positive than negative information. It is unclear whether this positivity bias effect generalizes to language and whether arousal matters. The present study investigated how age affects emotional word comprehension with varied valence (positive, negative) and arousal (high, low). We recorded older and younger participants’ brainwaves (EEG) while they read positive/negative and high/low-arousing words and pseudowords, and made word/non-word judgments. Older adults showed increased N400s and left frontal alpha decreases (300–450 ms) for low-arousing positive as compared to low-arousing negative words, suggesting an arousal-dependent positivity bias during lexical retrieval. Both age groups showed similar LPPs to negative words. Older adults further showed a larger mid-frontal theta increase (500–700 ms) than younger adults for low-arousing negative words, possibly indicating down-regulation of negative meanings of low-arousing words. Altogether, our data supported the strength and vulnerability integration model of aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105086
JournalBrain and Language
Volume227
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Alpha oscillations
  • Emotional words
  • Event-related potentials
  • Positivity bias effect
  • Theta oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

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