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What, when and how? Questions about mood, implicit causality, and the language/valence interface


Van Berkum,  Jos J. A.
Neurobiology of Language Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language in Action , MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2009). What, when and how? Questions about mood, implicit causality, and the language/valence interface. Talk presented at Symposium/festschrift in honor of Tony Sanford. Glasgow. 2009-09-04.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-3D15-5
In many domains of cognition, people in a happy mood are more inclined to rely on heuristic processing strategies than people in a sad mood. Recent ERP findings (De Goede, Van Alphen, Mulder, Kerstholt & Van Berkum, forthcoming) show that language comprehension is no exception: relative to a sad mood, a happy mood promotes the use of verb-based implicit causality information, leading people to expect that, e.g.,”David praised Linda because…” will continue with information about Linda. This raises some interesting specific questions, such as about what exactly is going on when and how (answer: we don’t really know yet). However, the study also raises a more general question about how the state of the mind/brain affects comprehension, and more specifically, which state dimensions are relevant to psycholinguistic theory. Along with many other findings, our ERP results suggest that full understanding of the language comprehension system requires a deeper understanding of lots of the rest of the brain, including systems involved in affective valence and, say, attention. In other words: Tony was right.