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James Kryklywy, Emilie Ptak, Rebecca Todd; Determining the relationship between emotion and sensory modality during stimulus localization.. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1353. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1353.
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Considerable evidence demonstrates that the presence of emotionally salient cues can influence the representation and processing of sensory information. These cues have the ability to enhance the representation of target stimuli, as well as potentiate the effect of sensory distractors. Interestingly, such effects appear to be influenced by subtle design details, including the sensory mode of both emotional distraction and target presentation. As most studies utilize consistent modes for stimulus presentation, delineation of emotional effects between the senses remains incomplete. The current experiment employed a search paradigm in which observers localized either an auditory (beep) or visual (dot) target within a 180° sensory array (3 monitors and 13 speakers). Simultaneously, task-irrelevant positive, negative, or neutral distractors, chosen from standardized databases and matched for arousal and valence, were presented across the entire sensory field. Thus, there were four unique blocks of trials (2 target modes X 2 distractor modes) with two intra-modal and two cross-modal conditions. After presentation of individual target-distractor pairings, observers indicated target location via mouse-click on a visual semicircle array. Confidence ratings were collected on a trial-by-trial basis. Whereas effects of emotion on target localization accuracy were identified in intra-modal conditions, no effects were observed in cross-modal conditions. During intra-modal conditions, task performance was poorest (greatest angular deviation between response and target direction) for targets paired with positive distractors. Furthermore, during auditory intra-modal trials, negative emotional distractors augmented localization performance, resulting in lower angular deviation between response direction and target location. These results, which are consistent with findings indicating impaired attentional focus in positive emotional contexts, suggest that emotional competition during stimulus location acquisition may arise in early stages of sensory processing, prior to cross-modal influence. Moreover, this study highlights importance of considering subtle experimental design features when interpreting emotional-related influences on sensory processes.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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