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What makes written words so special to the brain

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889193790 Year: Pages: 267 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-379-0 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-03 13:02:24
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Abstract

Reading is an integral part of life in today's information-driven societies. Since the pioneering work of Dejerine on "word blindness" in brain-lesioned patients, the literature has increased exponentially, from neuropsychological case reports to mechanistic accounts of word processing at the behavioural, neurofunctional and computational levels, tapping into diverse aspects of visual word processing. These studies have revealed some exciting findings about visual word processing, including how the brain learns to read, how changes in literacy impact upon word processing strategies, and whether word processing mechanisms vary across different alphabetic, logographic or artificial writing systems. Other studies have attempted to characterise typical and atypical word processes in special populations in order to explain why dyslexic brains struggle with words, how multilingualism changes the way our brains see words, and what the exact developmental signatures are that would shape the acquisition of reading skills. Exciting new insights have also emerged from recent studies that have investigated word stimuli at the system/network level, by looking for instance, at how the reading system interacts with other cognitive systems in a context-dependent fashion, how visual language stimuli are integrated into the speech processing streams, how both left and right hemispheres cooperate and interact during word processing, and what the exact contributions of subcortical and cerebellar regions to reading are. The contributions to this Research Topic highlight the latest findings regarding the different issues mentioned above, particularly how these findings can explain or model the different processes, mechanisms, pathways or cognitive strategies by which the human brain sees words. The introductory editorial, summarising the contributions included here, highlights how varieties of behavioural tests and neuroimaging techniques can be used to investigate word processing mechanisms across different alphabetic and logographic writing systems.

The Janus-Face of Language: Where Are the Emotions in Words and the Words in Emotions?

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889455508 Year: Pages: 316 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-550-8 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2019-01-23 14:53:42
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Language has long been considered independent from emotions. In the last few years however research has accumulated empirical evidence against this theoretical belief of a purely cognitive-based foundation of language. In particular, through research on emotional word processing it has been shown, that processing of emotional words activates emotional brain structures, elicits emotional facial expressions and modulates action tendencies of approach and avoidance, probably in a similar manner as processing of non-verbal emotional stimuli does. In addition, it has been shown that emotional content is already processed in the visual cortex in a facilitated manner which suggests that processing of emotional language content is able to circumvent in-depth semantic analysis.


Yet, this is only one side of the coin. Very recent research putting words into context suggests that language may also construe emotions and that by studying word processing one can provide a window to one’s own feelings. All in all, the empirical observations support the thesis of a close relationship between language and emotions at the level of word meaning as a specific evolutionary achievement of the human species. As such, this relationship seems to be different from the one between emotions and speech, where emotional meaning is conveyed by nonverbal features of the voice. But what does this relationship between written words and emotions theoretically imply for the processing of emotional information?


The present Research Topic and its related articles aim to provide answers to this question. This book comprises several experimental studies investigating the brain structures and the time course of emotional word processing. Included are studies examining the affective core dimensions underlying affective word processing and studies that show how these basic affective dimensions influence word processing in general as well as the interaction between words, feelings and (expressive) behavior. In addition, new impetus comes from studies that on the one hand investigate how task-, sublexical and intrapersonal factors influence emotional word processing and on the other hand extend emotional word processing to the domains of social context and self-related processing. Finally, future perspectives are outlined including research on emotion and language acquisition, culture and multilingualism.


In summary, this textbook offers scientists from different disciplines insight into the neurophysiological, behavioral and subjective mechanisms underlying emotion and language interactions. It gives new impulses to existing theories on the embodiment of language and emotion and provides new ways of looking at emotion-cognition interactions.

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