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Christine Salahub, Stephen Emrich; The Effect of Emotion on Processing Distractor Items in a Visual Working Memory Task. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):868. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.868.
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Emotion (whether positive or negative) has been found to influence both attention and memory-related processes. Xie and Zhang (2016) found that negative affect in particular increases the resolution of information that is stored in visual working memory (VWM). However, it remains unclear whether affect acts directly upon the quality of these representations, or if it instead impacts earlier attentional processes, such as attentional selection and breadth, which have been shown to be affected by affective states. The current study investigated the relationship between affect and attentional breadth by measuring the likelihood that nearby stimuli would influence a target judgment (i.e. non-target errors). Participants were first shown an image that was positive, negative, or neutral in valence on every trial. They then completed a continuous report VWM task wherein they remembered 2 or 4 colored shapes over a short delay, then recalled one shape's color from a color wheel. A three-component mixture model analysis (Bays, Catalao, & Husain, 2009) was used to estimate the proportion of target, non-target, and guess responses made in each condition. It was found that negative and positive affect differentially affected the likelihood of making non-target errors, such that less non-target errors were made in the negative affect condition. The present findings suggest that emotion influences attentional control, which is consistent with theories suggesting that VWM performance is linked to attentional selection during encoding.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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