Visual competition attenuates emotion effects during overt attention shifts

Kulke L, Bruemmer L, Pooresmaeili A, Schacht A (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


DOI: 10.1111/psyp.14087


Numerous different objects are simultaneously visible in a person's visual field, competing for attention. This competition has been shown to affect eye-movements and early neural responses toward stimuli, while the role of a stimulus' emotional meaning for mechanisms of overt attention shifts under competition is unclear. The current study combined EEG and eye-tracking to investigate effects of competition and emotional content on overt shifts of attention to human face stimuli. Competition prolonged the latency of the P1 component and of saccades, while faces showing emotional expressions elicited an early posterior negativity (EPN). Remarkably, the emotion-related modulation of the EPN was attenuated when two stimuli were competing for attention compared to non-competition. In contrast, no interaction effects of emotional expression and competition were observed on other event-related potentials. This finding indicates that competition can decelerate attention shifts in general and also diminish the emotion-driven attention capture, measured through the smaller effects of emotional expression on EPN amplitude. Reduction of the brain's responsiveness to emotional content in the presence of distractors contradicts models that postulate fully automatic processing of emotions.

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Kulke, L., Bruemmer, L., Pooresmaeili, A., & Schacht, A. (2022). Visual competition attenuates emotion effects during overt attention shifts. Psychophysiology.


Kulke, Louisa, et al. "Visual competition attenuates emotion effects during overt attention shifts." Psychophysiology (2022).

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