Facilitation and interference of behavioral responses by task-irrelevant affect-laden stimuli
- 351 Downloads
Emotional interference on behavior is commonly observed when task-irrelevant negative stimuli appear before behavioral targets. One explanation postulates that affect-laden stimuli readily capture attention, interfering with the processing of the upcoming target. Emotional stimuli might also preactivate motor programs incompatible with the demanded response. Using a cued go/no-go procedure we showed that task-irrelevant unpleasant stimuli cause interference or facilitation depending on their onset asynchrony relative to the target. We observed interference with short (200 ms) stimulus-target asynchronies and facilitation for longer ones (600 ms), both for key press (Experiment 1) and key release (Experiment 2) responses. The interference effect is compatible with an attentional explanation, but the behavioral facilitation is hard to accommodate within either attentional or motor accounts. This interference-facilitation pattern can be explained assuming that once the attentional effect subsides, emotional processing may enhance the perceptual processing of the stimuli, or lower the decision threshold, thereby facilitating the response selection process.
KeywordsEmotion Attention Motor Perception Decision-making
This work was supported by the Junta de Andalucía (P06-HUM02375 and P09-SEJ-4752) and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (SEJ2006-11906/PSIC and PSI2009-12217) grants to Andrés Catena and Antonio Maldonado, respectively.
- Irtel, H. (2006). PXLab: The psychological experiments laboratory [online]. Version 2.1.9. Mannheim (Germany): University of Mannheim. Available from http://www.pxlab.de.
- Koster, E. H. W., Crombrez, G., Verschuere, B., Van Damme, S., & Wiersema, J. R. (2006). Components of attentional bias to threat in high trait anxiety: Facilitated engagement, impaired disengagement, and attentional avoidance. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1757–1771.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2005). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual. Technical report A-6. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.Google Scholar
- LeDoux, J. E., & Phelps, E. (2000). Emotional networks in the brain. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- McCall, C., Tipper, C. M., Blascovich, J., & Grafton, S. T. (2011). Attitudes trigger motor behavior through conditioned associations: Neural and behavioral evidence. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsr057 (advance online publication).
- McClure, S. M., Botvinick, M. M., Yeung, N., Greene, J. D., & Cohen, J. D. (2007). Conflict monitoring in cognition-emotion competition. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 204–228). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Moltó, J., Montañés, S., Poy, R., Segarra, P., Pastor, M. C., Tormo, M. P., et al. (1999). Un nuevo método para el estudio experimental de las emociones: el International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Adaptación española. Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada, 52, 55–87.Google Scholar
- Phelps, E. A., Ling, S., & Carrasco, M. (2006). Emotion facilitates perception and potentiates the perceptual benefits of attention (research support, N.I.H., extramural).Google Scholar
- White, M. (1996). Anger recognition is independent of spatial attention. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 25, 30–35.Google Scholar