Research Topic

The Interplay between Emotion and Language: Cognition, Developmental, and Social Perspectives

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We humans are highly sensitive to emotional information. This is to such an extent that the impact of emotions has been reported for almost all of the investigated cognitive domains, such as planning, attention, memory or decision making. In line with this, recent perspectives on brain function and anatomy ...

We humans are highly sensitive to emotional information. This is to such an extent that the impact of emotions has been reported for almost all of the investigated cognitive domains, such as planning, attention, memory or decision making. In line with this, recent perspectives on brain function and anatomy demonstrate that emotion and cognition interweave and are enmeshed with each other via highly overlapping networks. Most recently, growing evidence reveals that language processing is also significantly affected by emotional information.

Classical models of language processing, nevertheless, admit that emotional effects on language comprehension are expected for semantics, but not for syntax and, consequently, early research only focused on testing emotional effects on semantics. However, recent evidence suggests that both conscious and unconscious emotional information may affect syntax, even at early processing. Most of this evidence comes from event-related brain potential (ERP) studies which demonstrate that emotional modulations of either anterior negativities (LAN) or P600 syntactic components, reflect early and late syntactic processing stages, respectively. Furthermore, literature reviews reveal a large variety of results and factors accounting for these dissimilarities are yet unknown, and the manner and extent to which emotions can affect language comprehension still needs more research.

Moreover, insight into the interplay between language and emotion processing promises to shed light on the neurocognition of developmental disorders. For instance, empirical evidence exists for an interplay between language and the ability to develop cognitive and affective mental representations of one’s own and another person’s world (Theory of Mind) in children with developmental language disorder. Insight into the interplay between language development and Theory of Mind development will feed differentiated assessment and treatment of communicative deficits and social emotional disorders in children with developmental disorders.

The main purpose of this Research Topic is therefore to shed light into the diversity of emotional effects on language processing and vice versa, and to analyse the available and most recent data in order to discuss possible contributing factors. Given that both language and emotions have an important adaptive role, studying their relationships may provide valuable clues on the nature and mechanisms of these highly relevant human traits. This Research Topic is specifically interested in theoretical and empirical contributions that further disentangle the relationship between language, emotion and Theory of Mind from a developmental perspective. However, this Research topic is open to a broad spectrum of methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of emotion and language interaction and will welcome experimental, neuroscientific, developmental, clinical, theoretical and interdisciplinary contributions.


Keywords: Cognition, Language, Emotion, Neurocognition, Developmental Disorders


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