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David De Vito, Anne E. Ferrey, Katherine McArthur, Mark J. Fenske; Attentional inhibition has affective consequences for visual stimuli represented in short- and long-term memory. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):853. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.10.853.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Ratings of previously ignored visual stimuli reveal affective devaluation of such items when compared to ratings of novel items or the targets of attention. Growing evidence suggests this effect may reflect negative affective associations elicited by attentional inhibition of visual distractors. Here we investigate whether such 'inhibitory devaluation' is limited to situations involving visual-spatial selection of environmental stimuli (i.e., external attention) or extends to the selection of competing visual representations held solely in memory (i.e., internal attention). A two-item target-localization task in Experiment 1 utilized a delayed target-category cue ('circles' or 'squares') to ensure attentional selection occurred from the contents of working memory. An n-back task in Experiment 2 was used to examine the affective consequences of rejecting continually-updated visual representations when items held in memory did not match the corresponding visual display. And a Think/No-think paradigm employed in Experiment 3 was designed to explore the affective consequences of actively suppressing longer-term visual object memories. Across this relatively-wide range of memory-based selection tasks, the ignored/rejected/suppressed visual patterns consistently received more negative affective ratings than target items. Our results are consistent with prior suggestions that similar mechanisms are involved in the attentional selection of environmental stimuli and the selection of internally-maintained information that occurs even in the absence of external sensory stimulation. The similarity in these mechanisms appears to extend not only to processes of attentional selection, per se, but also to their affective consequences.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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