The role of spatial selective attention in the processing of affective prosodies in congenitally blind adults: An ERP study

Topalidis, Pavlos, Zinchenko, Artyom, Gädeke, Julia and Foecker, Julia (2020) The role of spatial selective attention in the processing of affective prosodies in congenitally blind adults: An ERP study. Brain Research, 1739 . p. 146819. ISSN 0006-8993

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2020.146819

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The role of spatial selective attention in the processing of affective prosodies in congenitally blind adults: An ERP study
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Abstract

The question whether spatial selective attention is necessary in order to process vocal affective prosody has been controversially discussed in sighted individuals: whereas some studies argue that attention is required in order to process emotions, other studies conclude that vocal prosody can be processed even outside the focus of spatial selective attention. Here, we asked whether spatial selective attention is necessary for the processing of affective prosodies after visual deprivation from birth. For this purpose, pseudowords spoken in happy, neutral, fearful or threatening prosodies were presented at the left or right loudspeaker. Congenitally blind individuals (N=8) and sighted controls (N =13) had to attend to one of the loudspeakers and detect rare pseudowords presented at the attended loudspeaker during EEG recording. Emotional prosody of the syllables was task-irrelevant. Blind individuals outperformed sighted controls by being more efficient in detecting deviant syllables at the attended loudspeaker. A higher auditory N1 amplitude was observed in blind individuals compared to sighted controls. Additionally, sighted controls showed enhanced attention-related ERP amplitudes in response to fearful and threatening voices during the time range of the N1. By contrast, blind individuals revealed enhanced ERP amplitudes in attended relative to unattended locations irrespective of the affective valence in all time windows (110–350 ms). These effects were mainly observed at posterior electrodes. The results provide evidence for “emotion-general“ auditory spatial selective attention effects in congenitally blind individuals and suggest a potential reorganization of the voice processing brain system following visual deprivation from birth.

Keywords:attention, neural plasticity, blindness
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:41358
Deposited On:27 Jul 2020 15:05

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