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Jenna Zhao, Briana Kennedy, Steven Most; Object-based effects (and their absence) reveal parallel mechanisms of emotional disruption of perception. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):88. doi: 10.1167/16.12.88.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Emotional stimuli can capture attention and impair perception of subsequently presented targets, a phenomenon known as emotion-induced blindness (EIB). In contrast to spatial attention tasks (where emotional stimuli impair processing of targets away from their location), EIB occurs when targets and emotional distractors spatially overlap (Most & Wang, 2011). We examined whether EIB is spatially localized or spreads in an object-based manner. In two experiments, participants searched for targets within four simultaneous rapid streams of images, with each stream placed on the corner of an imaginary square. Two rectangles each enclosed two streams, such that any two streams could appear within the same "object" or across different objects (e.g., Egly, Driver, & Rafal, 1994). Emotional distractors appeared two items before targets, either within the same stream as the target or in a different stream. Emotional distractors impaired target perception when targets and distractors appeared within the same stream of images but not when these items appeared across different streams within the same object. Notably, emotional distractors did impair target perception when they appeared the same distance apart across different objects, consistent with object-based effects on spatial attention. These findings suggest that emotion-induced impairments in this task resulted from two parallel mechanisms: spatiotemporal competition that occurs only when the critical items appeared in the same location, and the diversion of spatial attention when targets and distractors appeared across different objects.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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