3 years ago

Can bottom-up processes of attention be a source of ‘interference’ in situations where top-down control of attention is crucial?

Graham Edgar, Dritan Nikolla, Tristan Matthews, Dianne Catherwood
In this study, we investigate whether emotionally engaged bottom-up processes of attention can be a source of ‘interference’ in situations where top-down control of attention is necessary. Participants were asked to monitor and report on a video of a war scenario showing a developing battle in two conditions: emotionally positive and emotionally negative. Half of the participants (n = 15) were exposed to task-irrelevant pictures of positive emotional valence embedded within the scenario; the other half were exposed to task-irrelevant pictures of negative emotional valence. Sensitivity and Bias scores were calculated using signal detection theory. Overall, task accuracy scores were dependent upon the valence; negative pictures had an adverse effect on performance, whereas positive pictures improved performance. We concluded that negative emotional pictures interfered with top-down control of attention by attracting competing bottom-up processes of attention. We found the opposite effect for positive emotional stimuli.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/bjop.12251

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