Affective Prime and Target Picture Processing: An ERP Analysis of Early and Late Interference Effects
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Viewing emotionally arousing compared to neutral pictures is associated with differential electrophysiological activity in early (“early posterior negativity”, EPN), as well as later time-windows (“late positive potential”, LPP). A previous study revealed that the EPN is reduced when the preceding prime picture was emotional. The present study explored whether sequential interference effects are specific for early processing stages or extend to later processing stages. Dense sensor ERPs were measured while subjects viewed a continuous stream of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant pictures, presented for 660 ms each. Previous results were replicated in that emotional pictures were associated with enlarged EPN and LPP amplitudes compared to neutral pictures. Furthermore, the EPN to emotional and neutral pictures was reduced when preceded by pleasant prime pictures. The novel finding was that emotional compared to neutral prime pictures were associated with reduced LPP amplitudes to the subsequently presented picture irrespective of its emotional valence (pleasant, neutral, unpleasant). These results demonstrate sustained interference effects in serial picture presentations discussed within a framework of resource competition among successive pictures.
KeywordsAttention Emotion ERP Interference Early posterior negativity Late positive potential
This research was supported by grants from the German research foundation Schu1074/10-1 and Schu1074/7-4 to Harald Schupp.
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