An ERP investigation of conditional reasoning with emotional and neutral contents.

TitleAn ERP investigation of conditional reasoning with emotional and neutral contents.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuteursBlanchette, I, El-Deredy, W
JournalBrain Cogn
Date Published2014 Nov
KeywordsAdult, Emotions, Evoked Potentials, Female, Humans, Logic, Male, Problem Solving, Reaction Time, Semantics, Thinking, Young Adult

In two experiments we investigate conditional reasoning using event-related potentials (ERPs). Our goal was to examine the time course of inference making in two conditional forms, one logically valid (Modus Ponens, MP) and one logically invalid (Affirming the Consequent, AC). We focus particularly on the involvement of semantically-based inferential processes potentially marked by modulations of the N400. We also compared reasoning about emotional and neutral contents with separate sets of stimuli of differing linguistic complexity across the two experiments. Both MP and AC modulated the N400 component, suggesting the involvement of a semantically-based inferential mechanism common across different logical forms, content types, and linguistic features of the problems. Emotion did not have an effect on early components, and did not interact with components related to inference making. There was a main effect of emotion in the 800-1050 ms time window, consistent with an effect on sustained attention. The results suggest that conditional reasoning is not a purely formal process but that it importantly implicates semantic processing, and that the effect of emotion on reasoning does not primarily operate through a modulation of early automatic stages of information processing.

Alternate JournalBrain Cogn
PubMed ID25222293