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Nadia Haddara, Jonathan Ravid, Erica Miller, Molly O'Hagan, Chris Caracciolo, Ryan O'Rourke, Jourdan Pouliot, Stacey Davis, L. Jack Rhodes, Vladimir Miskovic; Anxious Anticipation Prolongs the Emotion-induced Blindness Effect. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):730. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.730.
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Emotionally arousing images produce a transient accuracy impairment for detecting neutral targets under conditions of stringent spatiotemporal competition (e.g., rapid serial visual presentation). This performance impairment has been termed emotion-induced blindness and previous studies have demonstrated that the magnitude and time course of this visual processing impairment is exaggerated in individuals with clinical anxiety disorders. Here, we tested whether the emotion-induced blindness effect can be modulated by anxious anticipation in a healthy sample of participants. We embedded naturalistic scenes in a 10 Hz rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream, and varied the hedonic content of distractor images (aversive or neutral) that preceded neutral targets by 200, 400 or 700 ms. Experiment 1 examined the magnitude and time course of the emotion-induced blindness effect under typical conditions (no anxiety induction). We found that aversive distractors induced a temporary visual performance decrement at the 200-lag that was fully recovered by the 400-lag. In Experiment 2, participants performed the same RSVP task while under continuous threat of unpredictable electric shock. We found that the threat of unpredictable electric shock prolonged the duration of the emotion-induced blindness effect out to 400 and 700 ms, without affecting the overall magnitude of impairment. In Experiment 3, we tested the robustness of these findings by manipulating anxious anticipation within subjects over a two-day session. We replicated the effect of anxiety on emotion-induced blindness, which persisted at the 400-lag under the threat of shock compared to a safe (no shock) condition. The effect of anxiety occurred despite observed practice effects, suggesting that anxiety impacts task performance by delaying the amount of time that is necessary to recover from aversive distractor stimuli without directly enhancing the magnitude of visual impairment.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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