Foveal vs. parafoveal attention-grabbing power of threat-related information.
ABSTRACT We investigated whether threat words presented in attended (foveal) and in unattended (parafoveal) locations of the visual field are attention grabbing. Neutral (nonemotional) words were presented at fixation as probes in a lexical decision task. Each probe word was preceded by 2 simultaneous prime words (1 foveal, 1 parafoveal), either threatening or neutral, for 150 ms. The stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between the primes and the probe was either 300 or 1,000 ms. Results revealed slowed lexical decision times on the probe when primed by an unrelated foveal threat word at the short (300-ms) delay. In contrast, parafoveal threat words did not affect processing of the neutral probe at either delay. Nevertheless, both neutral and threat parafoveal words facilitated lexical decisions for identical probe words at 300-ms SOA. This suggests that threat words appearing outside the focus of attention do not draw or engage cognitive resources to such an extent as to produce interference in the processing of concurrent or subsequent neutral stimuli. An explanation of the lack of parafoveal interference is that semantic content is not extracted in the parafovea.
- SourceAvailable from: Bronwyn Harrison[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Mirror neurons are thought to facilitate emotion processing, but it is unclear whether the valence of an emotional presentation (positive or negative) can influence subsequent mirror neuron activity. Participants completed a transcranial magnetic stimulation experiment that involved stimulation of the primary motor cortex, and electromyography recording from contralateral hand muscles. This was performed while participants viewed videos of either a static hand or a transitive hand action preceded by either a positive or negative stimulus. Corticospinal excitability facilitation during action observation was significantly greater following the presentation of negative (relative to positive) stimuli; this was evident for the first dorsal interosseous muscle (which was central to the observed grasp), but not for the abductor digiti minimi muscle. This study provides evidence that emotional valence can modulate mirror neuron activity, which may reflect an adaptive mechanism.Neuroscience Letters 12/2011; 508(1):56-9. · 2.03 Impact Factor
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Past studies have revealed that encountering negative events interferes with cognitive processing of subsequent stimuli. The present study investigates whether negative events affect semantic and perceptual processing differently. Presentation of negative pictures produced slower reaction times than neutral or positive pictures in tasks that require semantic processing, such as natural or man-made judgments about drawings of objects, commonness judgments about objects, and categorical judgments about pairs of words. In contrast, negative picture presentation did not slow down judgments in subsequent perceptual processing (e.g., color judgments about words, size judgments about objects). The subjective arousal level of negative pictures did not modulate the interference effects on semantic or perceptual processing. These findings indicate that encountering negative emotional events interferes with semantic processing of subsequent stimuli more strongly than perceptual processing, and that not all types of subsequent cognitive processing are impaired by negative events.Emotion 12/2011; 11(6):1263-78. · 3.88 Impact Factor
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We investigated whether anxiety facilitates detection of threat stimuli outside the focus of overt attention, and the time course of the interference produced by threat distractors. Threat or neutral word distractors were presented in attended (foveal) and unattended (parafoveal) locations followed by an unrelated probe word at 300 ms (Experiments 1 and 2) or 1000 ms (Experiment 2) stimulus–onset asynchrony (SOA) in a lexical decision task. Results showed: (1) no effects of trait anxiety on selective saccades to the parafoveal threat distractors; (2) interference with probe processing (i.e., slowed lexical decision times) following a foveal threat distractor at 300 ms SOA for all participants, regardless of anxiety, but only for high-anxiety participants at 1000 ms SOA; and (3) no interference effects of parafoveal threat distractors. These findings suggest that anxiety does not enhance preattentive semantic processing of threat words. Rather, anxiety leads to delays in the inhibitory control of attended task-irrelevant threat stimuli.Journal of Cognitive Psychology 02/2012; 24(1):66-78.