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Electrophysiological differences in the processing of affective information in words and pictures

Abstract

It is generally assumed that affective picture viewing is related to higher levels of physiological arousal than is the reading of emotional words. However, this assertion is based mainly on studies in which the processing of either words or pictures has been investigated under heterogenic conditions. Positive, negative, relaxing, neutral, and background (stimulus fragments) words and pictures were presented to subjects in two experiments under equivalent experimental conditions. In Experiment 1, neutral words elicited an enhanced late positive component (LPC) that was associated with an increased difficulty in discriminating neutral from background stimuli. In Experiment 2, high-arousing pictures elicited an enhanced early negativity and LPC that were related to a facilitated processing for these stimuli. Thus, it seems that under some circumstances, the processing of affective information captures attention only with more biologically relevant stimuli. Also, these data might be better interpreted on the basis of those models that postulate a different access to affective information for words and pictures.

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Correspondence to José A. Hinojosa.

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This work was supported by Grant SEJ2005-08461-C02-01/PSIC from the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia of Spain.

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Hinojosa, J.A., Carretié, L., Valcárcel, M.A. et al. Electrophysiological differences in the processing of affective information in words and pictures. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience 9, 173–189 (2009). https://doi.org/10.3758/CABN.9.2.173

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Keywords

  • Neutral Word
  • Emotional Word
  • Negative Word
  • Positive Word
  • Neutral Picture