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Joseph DeSouza, Charles Leger; Does practice make perfect: an examination of performance during the Emotional Stroop paradigm. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1154. doi: 10.1167/12.9.1154.
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We are examining whether practice during our newly designed emotional stroop paradigm (Ovaysikia, Tahir, Chan and DeSouza, 2011 Frontiers in Human Neuroscience) can change behaviour in two related measures (1) performance as measured with reaction times and error rates and (2) during practice do people change their eye movement patterns to the stimuli. The current study evaluated the relationship between the emotional Stroop task practice and emotional Stroop task performance. This variation of the emotional Stroop task employed photos of happy, neutral and sad facial expressions arranged in composite face-word images, with emotional words (either happy, neutral or sad) being superimposed on but not obscuring facial expressions. Four participants, mean age of 22.5 years (SD = 2.4) all had either attained English language fluency by age 12. Emotional Stroop stimuli were presented on a 19-in., 60Hz monitor, a viewing distance of 50 cm, the visual angles were as follows: fixation cross 1.22°; images 17.14° (vertically) and 12.07° (horizontally). Consistent with our previous study, we found the emotional Stroop task variant produced interference effects similar to the original Stroop (1935) task. Of greater relevance to the effect of practice, the findings of the current study provide strong evidence that emotional Stroop practice significantly shortens reaction time (RT) in emotional Stroop performance compared to baseline. In addition, eye traces analysis revealed practice predicted a modification in gaze or fixation localization, during the "after" condition showing a significant shift or reallocation of a portion of fixations further down the stimulus closer to the proximity of the mouth when compared to the "before" condition. These data suggest emotional Stroop practice has the potential to improve decision making RT involving conflicting stimuli, and that the performance improvement may be partially mediated by a modification in oculomotor strategy.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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