Looking at the Sunny Side of Life Age-Related Change in an Event-Related Potential Measure of the Negativity Bias

Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7150, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 10/2007; 18(9):838-43. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01988.x
Source: PubMed


Studies of the negativity bias have demonstrated that negative information has a stronger influence than positive information in a wide range of cognitive domains. At odds with this literature is extensive work now documenting emotional and motivational shifts that result in a positivity effect in older adults. It remains unclear, however, whether this age-related positivity effect results from increases in processing of positive information or from decreases in processing of negative information. Also unknown is the specific time course of development from a negative bias to an apparently positive one. The present study was designed to investigate the negativity bias across the life span using an event-related potential measure of responding to emotionally valenced images. The results suggest that neural reactivity to negative images declines linearly with age, but responding to positive images is surprisingly age invariant across most of the adult life span.

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    • "The second dimension of the affect system, the negativity bias, is the assignment of higher negative valence to unpleasant information as compared to the positive valence assigned to pleasant information , when controlling for the arousal and extremity of the images. Experimental studies have shown that unpleasant stimuli evoke more pronounced and rapid automatic responses than equally extreme and arousing pleasant stimuli (Cacioppo et al., 1997; Delplanque, Silvert, Hot, & Sequeira, 2005; Huang & Luo, 2009; Kisley, Wood, & Burrows, 2007). Furthermore, the negativity bias has been associated with physiological indices, including a larger late positive potential (LPP, Ito & Cacioppo, 2005; Ito, Larsen, Smith, & Cacioppo, 1998; Smith et al., 2006), increased corrugator activity (Neta, Norris, & Whalen, 2009), and increased neural activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus (Gollan et al,. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background and objectives: Humans have the dual capacity to assign a slightly pleasant valence to neutral stimuli (the positivity offset) to encourage approach behaviors, as well as to assign a higher negative valence to unpleasant images relative to the positive valence to equally arousing and extreme pleasant images (the negativity bias) to facilitate defensive strategies. We conducted an experimental psychopathology study to examine the extent to which the negativity bias and the positivity offset differ in participants with and without major depression.. Method: Forty-one depressed and thirty-six healthy participants were evaluated using a structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders, questionnaires, and a computerized task designed to measure implicit affective responses to unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant stimuli. Results: The negativity bias was significantly higher and the positivity offset was significantly lower in depressed relative to healthy participants.. Limitations: Entry criteria enrolling medication-free participants with minimal DSM-IV comorbidity may limit generalizability of the findings. Conclusions: This study advances our understanding of the positive and negative valence systems in depression, highlighting the irregularities in the positive valence system..
    Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jbtep.2015.09.005 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    • "In one study, the early LPP was modulated by both intrinsic (i.e., the stimulus type) and extrinsic (i.e., the re-appraisal description type) manipulations of the emotional significance of the stimuli, whereas the late LPP only reflected extrinsic emotion regulation (Macnamara et al., 2009). Furthermore, the linear decline with age of LPP in response to negative stimuli (Kisley et al., 2007) suggests that the LPP increase seems to be a valid index to examine the maturation of cognitive appraisal in childhood (Hajcak and Dennis, 2009; Hajcak et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Empathic arousal is the first ontogenetic building block of empathy to appear during infancy and early childhood. As development progresses, empathic arousal becomes associated with an increasing ability to differentiate between self and other, which is a critical aspect of mature empathetic ability (Decety and Jackson, 2004). This allows for better regulation of contagious distress and understanding others mental states. In the current study, we recorded electroencephalographic event-related potentials and mu suppression induced by short visual animations that depicted painful situations in 57 typically developing children aged between 3 to 9 years as well as 15 young adults. Results indicate that the difference wave of an early automatic component (N200), indexing empathic arousal, showed an age-related decrease in amplitude. In contrast, the difference wave of late-positive potentials (LPP), associated with cognitive appraisal, showed an age-related gain. Only early LPP was detected in children, whereas both early and late LPP were observed in adults. Furthermore, as compared with adults, children showed stronger mu suppression when viewing both painful and non-painful stimuli. These findings provide neurophysiological support for the development of empathy during childhood, as indicated by a gradual decrease in emotional arousal and an increase in cognitive appraisal with age.
    Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 09/2014; 10:160-169. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2014.08.012 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    • "It was more specifically measured at the amplitude peak of the component, i.e. Pz, in accordance with the literature data [3], [30], [31], [33]. For each participant, the mean amplitude of the LPP was measured over the Pz electrode, for each emotional valence, in the two experimental blocks. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on emotion showed an increase, with age, in prevalence of positive information relative to negative ones. This effect is called positivity effect. From the cerebral analysis of the Late Positive Potential (LPP), sensitive to attention, our study investigated to which extent the arousal level of negative scenes is differently processed between young and older adults and, to which extent the arousal level of negative scenes, depending on its value, may contextually modulate the cerebral processing of positive (and neutral) scenes and favor the observation of a positivity effect with age. With this aim, two negative scene groups characterized by two distinct arousal levels (high and low) were displayed into two separate experimental blocks in which were included positive and neutral pictures. The two blocks only differed by their negative pictures across participants, as to create two negative global contexts for the processing of the positive and neutral pictures. The results show that the relative processing of different arousal levels of negative stimuli, reflected by LPP, appears similar between the two age groups. However, a lower activity for negative stimuli is observed with the older group for both tested arousal levels. The processing of positive information seems to be preserved with age and is also not contextually impacted by negative stimuli in both younger and older adults. For neutral stimuli, a significantly reduced activity is observed for older adults in the contextual block of low-arousal negative stimuli. Globally, our study reveals that the positivity effect is mainly due to a modulation, with age, in processing of negative stimuli, regardless of their arousal level. It also suggests that processing of neutral stimuli may be modulated with age, depending on negative context in which they are presented to. These age-related effects could contribute to justify the differences in emotional preference with age.
    PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e99523. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0099523 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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