What is said or how it is said makes a difference: role of the right fronto-parietal operculum in emotional prosody as revealed by repetitive TMS

Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Jun;21(11):3195-200. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.04130.x.


Emotional signals in spoken language can be conveyed by semantic as well as prosodic cues. We investigated the role of the fronto-parietal operculum, a somatosensory area where the lips, tongue and jaw are represented, in the right hemisphere to detection of emotion in prosody vs. semantics. A total of 14 healthy volunteers participated in the present experiment, which involved transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in combination with frameless stereotaxy. As predicted, compared with sham stimulation, TMS over the right fronto-parietal operculum differentially affected the reaction times for detection of emotional prosody vs. emotional semantics, showing that there is a dissociation at a neuroanatomical level. Detection of withdrawal emotions (fear and sadness) in prosody was delayed significantly by TMS. No effects of TMS were observed for approach emotions (happiness and anger). We propose that the right fronto-parietal operculum is not globally involved in emotion evaluation, but sensitive to specific forms of emotional discrimination and emotion types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Language Tests
  • Language*
  • Magnetics
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Semantics
  • Speech Discrimination Tests
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*