The processing of emotional stimuli during periods of limited attentional resources in schizophrenia

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From: Journal of Abnormal Psychology(Vol. 122, Issue 2)
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Document Type: Author abstract
Length: 274 words

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Abstract :

When participants are asked to attend to two target stimuli in a rapid serial visual presentation sequence, the successful identification of the 1st target (T1) leads to transient impairment in reporting the 2nd target (T2) - this effect is known as the attentional blink (AB). In healthy individuals, this AB effect is either diminished or accentuated when emotional stimuli are presented in the T2 or T1 positions, respectively, suggesting that affective content influences bottom-up (i.e., exogenous) attention. In the current study, we conducted two separate experiments using the Emotional Attentional Blink paradigm where emotional words were presented in the T2 or T1 position to determine whether schizophrenia patients with high and low negative symptoms differ from controls in the extent to which emotional stimuli influence bottom-up attentional processes. Participants included 33 schizophrenia patients and 28 controls in Experiment 1 (T2 Task), and 30 schizophrenia patients and 24 controls in Experiment 2 (T1 Task). In both experiments, patients were divided into high (HI-NEG) and low (LOW-NEG) negative symptom subgroups using the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms. Results of Experiment 1 indicated that controls and LOW-NEG patients displayed the typical pattern of AB sparing at early lags for emotional relative to neutral words; however, HI-NEG patients showed no difference in T2 accuracy between emotional and neutral stimuli. Results of Experiment 2 indicated that controls and LOW-NEG patients displayed reduced T2 accuracy following unpleasant T1 stimuli, while HI-NEG patients showed no decrement in T2 accuracy after emotional T1s. Across both experiments, findings suggest that emotional stimuli have a bottom-up competitive advantage in LOW-NEG patients and controls; however, this bottom-up advantage is absent in HI-NEG patients.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A340734503