Negative Arousal Amplifies the Effects of Saliency in Short-Term Memory.
ABSTRACT Evidence from 2 experiments suggests that negative arousal increases biases in attention that result from differences in visual salience. Participants were exposed to negative arousing or neutral sounds before briefly viewing an array of letters. They reported as many of the letters as they could, and attention was biased to certain letters by increasing salience through visual contrast. Regardless of the type of sound heard, participants were more likely to recall high-salience letters than low-salience letters. However, on arousing trials recall of high-salience letters increased, while recall of low-salience letters did not. These findings indicate that negative emotional arousal increases the selectivity of attention, and provides evidence for arousal-biased competition theory (Mather & Sutherland, 2011), which predicts that emotional arousal enhances representations of stimuli that have priority. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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ABSTRACT: Because the processing capacity of the visual system is limited, selective attention to one part of the visual field comes at the cost of neglecting other parts. In this paper, we review evidence from single-cell studies in monkeys and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in humans for neural competition and how competition is biased by attention. We suggest that, at the neural level, an important consequence of attention is to enhance the influence of behaviorally relevant stimuli at the expense of irrelevant ones, providing a mechanism for the filtering of distracting information in cluttered visual scenes. Psychophysical evidence suggests that processing outside the focus of attention is attenuated and may be even eliminated under some conditions. A major exception to the critical role of attention may be in the neural processing of emotion-laden stimuli, which are reported to be processed automatically, namely, without attention. Contrary to this prevailing view, in a recent study we found that all brain regions responding differentially to faces with emotional content, including the amygdala, did so only when sufficient resources were available to process those faces. After reviewing our findings, we discuss their implications, in particular (1) how emotional stimuli can bias competition for processing resources; (2) the source of the biasing signal for emotional stimuli; (3) how visual information reaches the amygdala; and finally (4) the relationship between attention and awareness.Progress in brain research 02/2004; 144:171-82. · 3.04 Impact Factor
Article: Emotional vision.Nature Neuroscience 12/2004; 7(11):1167-8. · 15.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Previous findings suggest that emotional stimuli sometimes improve (emotion-induced hypervision) and sometimes impair (emotion-induced blindness) the visual perception of subsequent neutral stimuli. We hypothesized that these differential carryover effects might be due to 2 distinct emotional influences in visual processing. On the one hand, emotional stimuli trigger a general enhancement in the efficiency of visual processing that can carry over onto other stimuli. On the other hand, emotional stimuli benefit from a stimulus-specific enhancement in later attentional processing at the expense of competing visual stimuli. We investigated whether detrimental (blindness) and beneficial (hypervision) carryover effects of emotion in perception can be dissociated within a single experimental paradigm. In 2 experiments, we manipulated the temporal competition for attention between an emotional cue word and a subsequent neutral target word by varying cue-target interstimulus interval (ISI) and cue visibility. Interestingly, emotional cues impaired target identification at short ISIs but improved target identification when competition was diminished by either increasing ISI or reducing cue visibility, suggesting that emotional significance of stimuli can improve and impair visual performance through distinct perceptual mechanisms.Emotion 12/2009; 9(6):865-73. · 3.88 Impact Factor