Article

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

ABSTRACT 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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    • "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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    • "The LPP waveform, which peaks several hundred milliseconds after stimulus onset (e.g., between 400 and 900 ms in the Kisley et al., 2007 study) tracks the relevance of stimuli (Schupp et al., 2000) and the allocation of attentional resources (Hajcak et al., 2006). Kisley et al. (2007) measured LPP within an adult sample while participants viewed and categorized a series of emotionally evocative images. Results indicated a systematic age-by-valence interaction in LPP amplitude consistent with the positivity effect: Whereas LPP amplitude did not differ by age in response to viewing positive images, the LPP amplitude evoked by negative images was inversely associated with age, indicating that older adults devote fewer neurocognitive resources to processing negative but not positive stimuli. "
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    Frontiers in Psychology 09/2012; 3:339. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00339 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "The present findings have implications for research designs that implement the \emotional oddball" ERP paradigm, including the study of the lifespan development of changes in brain response to emotional stimuli. For example, adding to the literature on documented age-related shifts in attentional allocation towards positive and away from negative stimuli (Murphy & Isaacowitz, 2008), we have shown a significant decrease in LPP amplitude to negative images with relatively stable responding to positive images as adults age from the 20 s to the 60 s (Kisley et al., 2007; Wood & Kisley, 2006). However, the findings of the present study suggest that the magnitude and perhaps even detectable presence of this age-related reduction in negative responding might depend on the manner in which the relevant stimuli are appraised by the participants. "
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