Title of Project

Emotionally Negative Pictures Increase Attention to Subsequent Stimuli: An EEG Event Related to Potentials Study

Researcher Information

Kristen deAlmeida

Project Type

Event

Start Date

2010 12:00 AM

End Date

2010 12:00 AM

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Emotionally Negative Pictures Increase Attention to Subsequent Stimuli: An EEG Event Related to Potentials Study

Although emotion and attention are well researched topics, it is currently unclear how an emotional state In particular, compared to pleasant stimuli, emotionally negative stimuli can influence attention. typically produce stronger emotional responses, making emotionally negative stimuli good candidates for attention modulation. Here, we assess the role of negative emotion in modulating attention by influencing an emotional state through the use of emotionally negative or neutral pictures selected from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). To this end, we have designed and employed a novel dual modality EEG Event Related Potentials (ERPs) paradigm. Specifically, auditory ERPs are elicited by tones after participants view the IAPS pictures. Each picture is presented 600 ms before the tone, in an auditory oddball scenario wherein there are two tones presented to the participant- the oddball (rare) and the standard (frequent). The participants used a computer keyboard to identify the tone-picture combination. Results show a larger late positive potential (LPP) in the negative picture trials compared to the neutral picture trials, indicating that the negative pictures enhanced encoding processing for the emotionally negative stimuli. Here, we further demonstrate that negative pictures, but not neutral pictures, result in processing negativity to the subsequent rare tone, suggesting increased selective attention to the auditory stimulus. Combined, the results reveal that the LPP to the negative pictures serves as an ERP counterpart of the early stages of selective attention (as measured by the processing negativity)- implying that a novel or threatening stimulus results in further automatic stimulus evaluation.