Abnormal processing of emotional prosody in Williams syndrome: an event-related potentials study.

Neuropsychophysiology Lab, CIPsi, School of Psychology, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.
Research in developmental disabilities (Impact Factor: 4.41). 10/2010; 32(1):133-47. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2010.09.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Williams syndrome (WS), a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder due to a microdeletion in chromosome 7, is described as displaying an intriguing socio-cognitive phenotype. Deficits in prosody production and comprehension have been consistently reported in behavioral studies. It remains, however, to be clarified the neurobiological processes underlying prosody processing in WS. This study aimed at characterizing the electrophysiological response to neutral, happy, and angry prosody in WS, and examining if this response was dependent on the semantic content of the utterance. A group of 12 participants (5 female and 7 male), diagnosed with WS, with age range between 9 and 31 years, was compared with a group of typically developing participants, individually matched for chronological age, gender and laterality. After inspection of EEG artifacts, data from 9 participants with WS and 10 controls were included in ERP analyses. Participants were presented with neutral, positive and negative sentences, in two conditions: (1) with intelligible semantic and syntactic information; (2) with unintelligible semantic and syntactic information ('pure prosody' condition). They were asked to decide which emotion was underlying the auditory sentence. Atypical event-related potentials (ERP) components were related with prosodic processing (N100, P200, N300) in WS. In particular, reduced N100 was observed for prosody sentences with semantic content; more positive P200 for sentences with semantic content, in particular for happy and angry intonations; and reduced N300 for both types of sentence conditions. These findings suggest abnormalities in early auditory processing, indicating a bottom-up contribution to the impairment in emotional prosody processing and comprehension. Also, at least for N100 and P200, they suggest the top-down contributions of semantic processes in the sensory processing of speech. This study showed, for the first time, that abnormalities in ERP measures of early auditory processing in WS are also present during the processing of emotional vocal information. This may represent a physiological signature of underlying impaired on-line language and socio-emotional processing.

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    ABSTRACT: The present electroencephalographic (EEG) study investigated the ability of cochlear implant (CI) users to recognize emotional prosody. Two CI speech-processing strategies were compared: the ACE (Advance Combination Encoder) and the newly developed MP3000. Semantically neutral sentences spoken in three different emotional prosodies (neutral, angry, happy) were presented to 20 post-lingually deafened CI users and age-matched normal-hearing controls. Event related potentials (ERPs) were recorded to study the N100 and the P200 responses. In addition, event-related spectral power modulations were calculated to study the brain activity corresponding to the recognition of prosody in earlier (0-400) as well as later (600-1200) part of the stimuli where the prosodic features differed maximally. CI users with MP3000 strategy showed a higher proportion of correctly recognized prosodic information compared to the ACE strategy users. Our ERP results demonstrated that emotional prosody elicited significant N100 and P200 peaks. Furthermore, the P200 amplitude in response to happy prosodic information was significantly more positive for the MP3000 strategy compared to the ACE strategy. On spectral power analysis, two typical gamma activities were observed in the MP3000 users only: (1) an early gamma activity in the 100-250 ms time window reflecting bottom-up attention regulation; and (2) a late gamma activity between 900 and 1100 ms post-stimulus onset, probably reflecting top-down cognitive control. Our study suggests that the MP3000 strategy is better than ACE in regard to happy prosody perception. Furthermore, we show that EEG is a useful tool that, in combination with behavioral analysis, can reveal differences between two CI processing strategies for coding of prosody-specific features of language.
    NeuroImage : clinical. 01/2013; 2:229-38.
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    ABSTRACT: Williams syndrome (WS), a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder, has been taken as evidence that music and language constitute separate modules. This research focused on the linguistic component of prosody and aimed to assess whether relationships exist between the pitch processing mechanisms for music and prosody in WS. Children with WS and typically developing individuals were presented with a musical pitch and two prosody discrimination tasks. In the musical pitch discrimination task, participants were required to distinguish whether two musical tones were the same or different. The prosody discrimination tasks evaluated participants' skills for discriminating pairs of prosodic contours based on pitch or pitch, loudness and length, jointly. In WS, musical pitch discrimination was significantly correlated with performance on the prosody task assessing the discrimination of prosodic contours based on pitch only. Furthermore, musical pitch discrimination skills predicted performance on the prosody task based on pitch, and this relationship was not better explained by chronological age, vocabulary or auditory memory. These results suggest that children with WS process pitch in music and prosody through shared mechanisms. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of cognitive modularity. The implications of these results for intervention programs for individuals with WS are also discussed.
    Brain sciences. 05/2014; 4(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Background Deficits in facial emotion processing, reported in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), have been linked to both early perceptual and later attentional components of event-related potentials (ERPs). However, the neural underpinnings of vocal emotion processing deficits in ADHD have yet to be characterised. Here, we report the first ERP study of vocal affective prosody processing in ADHD.Methods Event-related potentials of 6–11-year-old children with ADHD (n = 25) and typically developing controls (n = 25) were recorded as they completed a task measuring recognition of vocal prosodic stimuli (angry, happy and neutral). Audiometric assessments were conducted to screen for hearing impairments.ResultsChildren with ADHD were less accurate than controls at recognising vocal anger. Relative to controls, they displayed enhanced N100 and attenuated P300 components to vocal anger. The P300 effect was reduced, but remained significant, after controlling for N100 effects by rebaselining. Only the N100 effect was significant when children with ADHD and comorbid conduct disorder (n = 10) were excluded.Conclusion This study provides the first evidence linking ADHD to atypical neural activity during the early perceptual stages of vocal anger processing. These effects may reflect preattentive hyper-vigilance to vocal anger in ADHD.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 08/2014; · 5.42 Impact Factor

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