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Logan Doyle, Susanne Ferber; Revisiting the Impact of Perception on Tasks of Emotionally-Enhanced Vividness. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):719. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.719.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research has identified that emotional scenes are reported as more vivid than neutral ones, a phenomenon referred to as emotionally-enhanced vividness (EEV). Explanations of EEV point to perceptual or attentional processes for this relationship but did not sufficiently rule out the possibility of a memory bias in reporting the results. To investigate the contribution of perception and memory to tasks examining EEV, we asked participants to view emotionally salient images of negative valence or neutral greyscale images, each with a different level of applied noise as stimuli. After a brief retention interval, the test image was shown onscreen alongside a slider. Participants responded by moving the slider to add noise to the test image until it matched the remembered presentation. In the first experiment, the stimulus and test image were the same. Contrary to previous research, participants in this experiment applied significantly more noise to emotional images compared to neutral images. To elucidate whether this was driven by impaired memory of the stimulus or better perception at test, the second experiment varied the test image independently from the stimulus image. In this experiment, participants rated only neutral stimulus images followed by emotional test images as significantly noisier than any other condition, suggesting that the emotional test image at response was perceived as more vivid than a neutral one. These findings suggest that EEV does occur at the level of perception but that these enhancements are not passed on to subsequent memory for the same scene.
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