Emotion-induced blindness reflects competition at early and late processing stages: An ERP study
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Emotion-induced blindness (EIB) refers to impaired awareness of items appearing soon after an irrelevant, emotionally arousing stimulus. Superficially, EIB appears to be similar to the attentional blink (AB), a failure to report a target that closely follows another relevant target. Previous studies of AB using event-related potentials suggest that the AB results from interference with selection (N2 component) and consolidation (P3b component) of the second target into working memory. The present study applied a similar analysis to EIB and, similarly, found that an irrelevant emotional distractor suppressed the N2 and P3b components associated with the following target at short lags. Emotional distractors also elicited a positive deflection that appeared to be similar to the PD component, which has been associated with attempts to suppress salient, irrelevant distractors (Kiss, Grubert, Petersen, & Eimer, 2012; Sawaki, Geng, & Luck, 2012; Sawaki & Luck, 2010). These results suggest that irrelevant emotional pictures gain access to working memory, even when observers are attempting to ignore them and, like the AB, prevent access of a closely following target.
KeywordsEmotion Attention ERP
This work was supported by NIH grant R03 MH091526 to S.B.M. and NSF grant BCS-1059560 to J.E.H. We wish to thank Matthew Doran, Scott McLean, and Lingling Wang for helpful discussions about this project.
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