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Caroline Barras, Coralie Pittet, Dirk Kerzel; Interference from salient-but-irrelevant stimuli is influenced by emotional valence. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):949. doi: 10.1167/17.10.949.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We investigated how interference from salient distractors is affect by their emotional content. We presented six shapes and participants searched for a flower with a missing petal. Participants had to indicate the side of this missing petal (left or right) by pressing one of two keys. Before the beginning of the experiment, participants were informed that one of two distractors would occasionally appear. A distractor was present on 66% of the trials. In 33% of trials, the distractor was a spider and in the other 33% of trials, it was a leaf. Results showed that interference from the distractor was larger with a spider compared to a leaf. Additionally, we measured event-related potentials. The target elicited an N2pc in the control condition. Interference from the spider and the leaf was accompanied by a contralateral positivity, the PD component. The PD was more positive with the spider compare to the leaf. Previously, the N2pc component was considered a measure of attentional capture whereas the distractor positivity (PD) was assumed to reflect attentional suppression. Our findings confirm that when the salient distractor is predictable, it can be suppressed. The spider was more strongly suppressed than the leaf suggesting that threatening singletons are avoided, in line with adaptive behavior. In sum, our results show that suppression of salient-but-irrelevant distractors is influence by their emotional valence.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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