Processing of masked and unmasked emotional faces under different attentional conditions: an electrophysiological investigation

Del Zotto, Marzia and Pegna, Alan J. (2015) Processing of masked and unmasked emotional faces under different attentional conditions: an electrophysiological investigation. Frontiers in Psychology, 6 OCT: 1691.1-1691.12. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01691

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Author Del Zotto, Marzia
Pegna, Alan J.
Title Processing of masked and unmasked emotional faces under different attentional conditions: an electrophysiological investigation
Journal name Frontiers in Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1664-1078
Publication date 2015-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01691
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 6
Issue OCT
Start page 1691.1
End page 1691.12
Total pages 12
Place of publication Lausanne, Switzerland
Publisher Frontiers Research Foundation
Language eng
Abstract In order to investigate the interactions between non-spatial selective attention, awareness and emotion processing, we carried out an ERP study using a backward masking paradigm, in which angry, fearful, happy, and neutral facial expressions were presented, while participants attempted to detect the presence of one or the other category of facial expressions in the different experimental blocks. ERP results showed that negative emotions enhanced an early N170 response over temporal-occipital leads in both masked and unmasked conditions, independently of selective attention. A later effect arising at the P2 was linked to awareness. Finally, selective attention was found to affect the N2 and N3 components over occipito-parietal leads. Our findings reveal that (i) the initial processing of facial expressions arises prior to attention and awareness; (ii) attention and awareness give rise to temporally distinct periods of activation independently of the type of emotion with only a partial degree of overlap; and (iii) selective attention appears to be influenced by the emotional nature of the stimuli, which in turn impinges on unconscious processing at a very early stage. This study confirms previous reports that negative facial expressions can be processed rapidly, in absence of visual awareness and independently of selective attention. On the other hand, attention and awareness may operate in a synergistic way, depending on task demand.
Keyword Awareness
Emotions
ERP
Faces
Masking
Selective attention
Subliminal
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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