, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 382-387

Is cross-modal integration of emotional expressions independent of attentional resources?

Abstract

In this study, we examined whether integration of visual and auditory information about emotions requires limited attentional resources. Subjects judged whether a voice expressed happiness or fear, while trying to ignore a concurrently presented static facial expression. As an additional task, the subjects had to add two numbers together rapidly (Experiment 1), count the occurrences of a target digit in a rapid serial visual presentation (Experiment 2), or judge the pitch of a tone as high or low (Experiment 3). The visible face had an impact on judgments of the emotion of the heard voice in all the experiments. This cross-modal effect was independent of whether or not the subjects performed a demanding additional task. This suggests that integration of visual and auditory information about emotions may be a mandatory process, unconstrained by attentional resources.