Mixing positive and negative valence: Affective-semantic integration of bivalent words.

Scientific reports

PubMedID: 27491491

Kuhlmann M, Hofmann MJ, Briesemeister BB, Jacobs AM. Mixing positive and negative valence: Affective-semantic integration of bivalent words. Sci Rep. 2016;630718.
Single words have affective and aesthetic properties that influence their processing. Here we investigated the processing of a special case of word stimuli that are extremely difficult to evaluate, bivalent noun-noun-compounds (NNCs), i. e. novel words that mix a positive and negative noun, e. g. 'Bombensex' (bomb-sex). In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment we compared their processing with easier-to-evaluate non-bivalent NNCs in a valence decision task (VDT). Bivalent NNCs produced longer reaction times and elicited greater activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) than non-bivalent words, especially in contrast to words of negative valence. We attribute this effect to a LIFG-grounded process of semantic integration that requires greater effort for processing converse information, supporting the notion of a valence representation based on associations in semantic networks.