Stimulus novelty and emotionality interact in the processing of visual distractors.

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Date: Jan. 2022
From: Biological Psychology(Vol. 167)
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 309 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Emotion; Habituation; Attentional capture; Late positive potential Highlights * Task-irrelevant emotional stimuli (distractors) capture attention and prompt behavioral interference. * Behavioral interference for emotional distractors rapidly wanes with mere stimulus repetition (habituation). * The enhanced amplitude of the Late Positive Potential for emotional compared to neutral distractors habituates with repetitions, more clearly for unpleasant pictures. * After an extensive repetition context, the introduction of novel stimuli prompts a response recovery for emotional, but not for neutral stimuli. * The lateralized alpha ERD is enhanced for emotional stimuli and this cortical modulation does not change with repetition. Abstract Novel distractors are prioritized for attentional selection. When distractors also convey emotional content, they divert attention from the primary task more than neutral stimuli do. In the present study, while participants were engaged in a central task, we examined the impact of peripheral distractors that varied for emotional content and novelty. Results showed that emotional interference on reaction times completely habituated with repetition and promptly recovered with novelty. The enhanced LPP for emotional pictures was attenuated by repetitions and, interestingly, stimulus novelty only affected emotional, but not neutral distractors, in both the RTs and LPP. Alpha-ERD was similarly reduced for repeated emotional and neutral distractors. Altogether, these findings suggest that the impact of peripheral distractors can be attenuated through a non-strategic learning mechanism mediated by mere stimulus repetition, which is fine-tuned to detect changes in emotional distractors only, supporting the hypothesis that novelty and emotion share the same motivational circuits. Author Affiliation: (a) Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Italy (b) Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy * Correspondence to: Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Via Volturno, 39, Parma, Italy. Article History: Received 27 August 2021; Revised 3 November 2021; Accepted 1 December 2021 Byline: Vera Ferrari [vera.ferrari@unipr.it] (a,*), Francesca Canturi (a), Maurizio Codispoti (b)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A688257674