Attention modulates the processing of emotional expression triggered by foveal faces

School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University, Whitelands College, Holybourne Avenue, London SW15 4JD, UK.
Neuroscience Letters (Impact Factor: 2.03). 03/2006; 394(1):48-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2005.10.002
Source: PubMed


To investigate whether the processing of emotional expression for faces presented within foveal vision is modulated by spatial attention, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in response to stimulus arrays containing one fearful or neutral face at fixation, which was flanked by a pair of peripheral bilateral lines. When attention was focused on the central face, an enhanced positivity was elicited by fearful as compared to neutral faces. This effect started at 160 ms post-stimulus, and remained present for the remainder of the 700 ms analysis interval. When attention was directed away from the face towards the line pair, the initial phase of this emotional positivity remained present, but emotional expression effects beyond 220 ms post-stimulus were completely eliminated. These results demonstrate that when faces are presented foveally, the initial rapid stage of emotional expression processing is unaffected by attention. In contrast, attentional task instructions are effective in inhibiting later, more controlled stages of expression analysis.

14 Reads
  • Source
    • "December 2013 | Volume 4 | Article 969 | 1 " fpsyg-04-00969 " — 2013/12/24 — 17:35 — page 2 — #2 Uusberg et al. Unintentionality of affective attention suggest that early detection of emotional significance should be more effortless than subsequent elaboration (e.g., Holmes et al., 2006; Pourtois et al., 2010; although see Pessoa, 2010). However , it is empirically (cf. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Affective attention involves bottom-up perceptual selection that prioritizes motivationally significant stimuli. To clarify the extent to which this process is automatic, we investigated the dependence of affective attention on the intention to process emotional meaning. Affective attention was manipulated by presenting affective images with variable arousal and intentionality by requiring participants to make affective and non-affective evaluations. Polytomous rather than binary decisions were required from the participants in order to elicit relatively deep emotional processing. The temporal dynamics of prioritized processing were assessed using early posterior negativity (EPN, 175-300 ms) as well as P3-like (P3, 300-500 ms) and slow wave (SW, 500-1500 ms) portions of the late positive potential. All analyzed components were differentially sensitive to stimulus categories suggesting that they indeed reflect distinct stages of motivational significance encoding. The intention to perceive emotional meaning had no effect on EPN, an additive effect on P3, and an interactive effect on SW. We concluded that affective attention went from completely unintentional during the EPN to partially unintentional during P3 and SW where top-down signals, respectively, complemented and modulated bottom-up differences in stimulus prioritization. The findings were interpreted in light of two-stage models of visual perception by associating the EPN with large-capacity initial relevance detection and the P3 as well as SW with capacity-limited consolidation and elaboration of affective stimuli.
    Frontiers in Psychology 12/2013; 4:969. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00969 · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "These results replicate and extend previous reports that directing attention away from emotional pictures reduces electrocortical measures of motivated attention, for pictures in the periphery (De Cesarei et al., 2009; Eimer et al., 2003; Holmes et al., 2003; Keil et al., 2005; MacNamara & Hajcak, 2009) and at fixation (De Cesarei et al., 2009; Dunning & Hajcak, 2009; Hajcak et al., 2009; Holmes et al., 2006; Nordström & Wiens, 2012; Sand & Wiens, 2011; Schupp et al., 2007; Wiens, Sand, Norberg et al., 2011). Whereas these previous ERP studies manipulated emotion only in coarse groupings of pictures (e.g., emotional vs. neutral), the Fig. 5. Mean amplitudes for EPN-relevant electrodes over the six arousal levels. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotional stimuli tend to capture attention, and this so-called motivated attention is commonly measured using the early posterior negativity (EPN) and the late positive potential (LPP). We hypothesized that voluntary, directed attention reduces motivated attention more strongly for highly than moderately arousing pleasant or unpleasant pictures. Participants were instructed to direct their attention to either a picture at fixation or the letters flanking the picture. Pictures varied substantially in arousal and valence. When the pictures were attended to, EPN and LPP increased linearly with arousal. When the letters were attended to, these linear effects decreased in the EPN for pleasant and unpleasant pictures and in the LPP for pleasant pictures. Thus, directed attention decreases processing of emotional distracters more strongly for highly than moderately arousing pleasant and unpleasant pictures. These results are consistent with the view that directed attention decreases emotion effects on sensory gain.
    Biological psychology 05/2013; 94(1). DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.05.001 · 3.40 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The P100 is a positively deflecting waveform that typically occurs between 80 and 200 ms post-stimulus onset and has been shown to be a marker of extrastriate activity (Clark et al., 1995). The P100 is the most consistently found early component that can be modified by fearful emotion (Eimer and Holmes, 2002; Smith et al., 2003; Carretie et al., 2004; Delplanque et al., 2004; Pourtois et al., 2005; Holmes et al., 2006). While the P100 is commonly modulated by emotion, the topography of the modulation has varied from occipital, to lateral-occipital, to parietal, to frontal locations. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this study we used event-related brain potentials (ERP) as neural markers of cognitive operations to examine emotion and attentional processing in a population of high-risk adolescents with mental health problems that included attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. We included a healthy control group for comparison purposes, and employed a modified version of the emotional oddball paradigm, consisting of frequent distracters (scrambled pictures), infrequent distracters (sad, fearful, and neutral pictures), and infrequent targets (circles). Participants were instructed to make a right hand button press to targets and a left hand button press to all other stimuli. EEG/ERP recordings were taken using a high-density 256-channel recording system. Behavioral data showed that for both clinical and non-clinical adolescents, reaction time (RT) was slowest in response to the fearful images. Electrophysiological data differentiated emotion and target processing between clinical and non-clinical adolescents. In the clinical group we observed a larger P100 and late positive potential (LPP) in response to fearful compared to sad or neutral pictures. There were no differences in these ERPs in the healthy sample. Emotional modulation of target processing was also identified in the clinical sample, where we observed an increase in P300 amplitude, and a larger sustained LPP in response to targets that followed emotional pictures (fear and sad) compared to targets that followed neutral pictures or other targets. There were no differences in these target ERPs for the healthy participants. Taken together, we suggest that these data provide important and novel evidence of affective and attention dysfunction in this clinical population of adolescents, and offer an example of the disruptive effects of emotional reactivity on basic cognition.
    Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 12/2012; 6:119. DOI:10.3389/fnint.2012.00119
Show more


14 Reads
Available from