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PSY1207 Cognition, emotion and development > Cognition and emotion > Flashcards

Flashcards in Cognition and emotion Deck (59)
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what is an emotion?

‘A strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood/r’ships with others; instinctive/intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning/knowledge’


effects of emotion on cognition

Emotional stimuli elicit automatic responses and ‘grab’ attention

Critical for survival/reproductive success so prioritized

‘Preparedness’: evolved to fear ‘phobic’ stimuli in natural world (snakes, spiders), but not modern dangers (cars)


unconscious emotions can influence behaviour (Winkielman et al., 2005)

Revealed strong effects of subliminally presented (unconscious) emotional faces on behaviour (consumption, willingness to pay and wanting for more drink), w/ mo effects on subjective mood/ratings of liking of drink

Affective priming effect only present in thirsty Ps (i.e. dependent of Ps being in relevant motivational state)

Not been replicated


unconscious priming of behaviour

John Bargh et al. demo’d lost of fascinating effects of unconscious primes on behaviour and decision-making


cognitive bias towards emotional stimuli

1. Classic tests from cog psyche have been widely used to demo influence of emotional stimuli on attention, memory and decision-making
- E.g. Stroop test

2. Tests freq used in clinical psych research to asses role of cog biases in development and maintenance of disorders

3. Some now being adapted to treatments to modify cog biases


what is attention?

Process by which specific stimuli within external and internal env selected for further processing

Automatic v controlled - noise

May depend on what scheme active/what mood someone is in - same stimulus processed differently


what paradigms are there to asses attentional bias?

(Selective allocation of attention to disorder-related stimuli over neutral stimuli)

Detection tasks

Visual search task (E.g. Gilboa-Schectman et al., 1999)


detection tasks

If an indv prone to attending more to particular type stimulus, he/she should detect it faster if located amongst distractors


visual search task

P presented with array of stimuli and must detect target stimulus within array as quickly as pos

Selective attention indexed by extent to which stimuli surrounding target stimulus slow down speed with which its detected

Detect negative fats more than pos


the emotional Stroop task

Instruction is: ‘read out loud the colour in which the words printed and ignore the content of the word’

Compare TR when word content neutral/related to disorder

Difficulties in interpreting Stroop - usually taken to reflect ‘attentional bias’, but:
1. Disorder-relevant words may induce internal attention (trigger rumination etc.)
2. May induce emotional reaction that slows response
3. Cognitive avoidance

Avoidance can interfere with one’s ability to do the task effectively

Studies suggest FAST (current trial) and SLOW (previous trial) interference effects
• Fast effect usually interpreted as reflecting fast and automatic allocation of attention to stimuli of high relevance/arousal whereas the slow effect might result from a general slowdown after the processing of neg stimuli - this general slowdown might indicate a warning system that screens the end in the presence of possibly threatening info (McKenna and Sharma, 2004)

What issues are there with using blocked presentation of words as we did?

How could these be avoided?


the dot probe task

Measures of selective attention indexed by a shorter latency to respond - better measure, less ambiguous

2 cues presented simultaneously on computer screen and response time indicates preferential processing of one cue relative to the other cue

Task is to press the response button as fast as possible when s/he detects a dot on the computer screen

Degree of SA to emotional cues = RT probe to location-Emotional - RT probe to location-Neutral Across the whole task, the spatial location of the emotional cue (upper, lower) and the spatial location of the dot-probe (upper, lower) balanced


the attention probe task

But could involve either engagement/disengagement bias

Rationale.- speed of responding to probes will be dependent on the spatial allocation of attention

Ps will be faster to respond to probes appearing in already attended region

If Ps faster to respond to probes appearing in location of emotional stimuli, relative to probes presented in location of neutral stimuli, this indicates biased attentional processing

The dot-probe paradigm is generally considered to provide a clear and unambiguous measure of SA

Faster responding to probes in the location of emotional stimuli could result from either enhanced attentional engagement (capture) with such stimuli/greater difficulty disengaging attention from them once it has been allocated

Index of attentional bias will reflect the combined influence of any biases in attentional engagement and disengagement

Researchers wishing to discriminate between 2 types of attentional bias must use alternative paradigms


limitation of the attention probe task

One limitation of the original version is that it cannot distinguish between engagement and disengagement biases


modified APT (Grafton et al., 2012)

Can distinguish between engagement and disengagement biases

Cue stimulus presented before and after pairs target stimuli

Fixes attention in one particular location prior to presenting stimulus pairs

Cue matching – Ps have to attend to cue in order to be able to respond accurately

First probe fixes attention in particular location

Can specifically investigate whether Ps faster to move attention towards location of emotional stimulus/slower to move attention away from this location

Compared RTs for probes presented in emotional as opposed to neutral location

Control for general diffs in shifting speed, compare with same index for pos


attentional bias

Systematic tendency to attend to particular type stimulus over others (e.g. neg/drug-related)

Suggested to be underlying process involved in range disorders


attentional bias with anxiety disorders

Reliable evidence of bias for threatening info – both for subliminal and supraliminal (conscious) stimuli

Eye-tracking suggests increased vigilance for threat and slower disengagement (Armstrong and Olatunji, 2012)


attentional bias with depression

Meta-analysis (Peckham et al., 2010) suggests bias and greater ‘lingering’ of attention on sad stimuli

Eye-tracking shows maintenance of gaze on sad stimuli and less on pos stimuli (Armstrong and Olatunji, 2012)

Mixed evidence for AB in depression

Discrepant findings may be explained by exp conditions under which bias found

Studies generally more successful when using depression relevant stimuli, rather than threat stimuli

When stimuli presented for longer durations – some researchers interp as evidence that attentional biases in depression operate at later stages of processing – depression might be particularly related to difficulty disengaging attention for neg stimuli

Eye-tracking studies supported interp – maintained gaze, but no orienting bias


what happens in the brain when looking at emotional stimuli?

Emotional stimuli cause early neuronal responses (at 100-120ms) prior to identification (170ms) prefrontal

Emotional stimuli cause increased functional connectivity (synchronized activity) between amygdala and visual cortex amygdala (amygdala lesions abolish bias for emotional words)


Eimer and Holmes (2002)

Using event-related brain potentials (ERPs), we investigated the time course of facial expression processing in human subjects watching photographs of fearful and neutral faces.

Upright fearful faces elicited a frontocentral positivity within 120 ms after stimulus presentation, which was followed by a broadly distributed sustained positivity beyond 250 ms post-stimulus.
– Emotional expression effects were delayed and attenuated when faces were inverted.

In contrast, the face-specific N170 component was completely unaffected by facial expression.

We conclude that emotional expression analysis (~120 ms) and the structural encoding of faces (~170 ms) are parallel processes.

Early emotional ERP modulations may reflect the rapid activation of prefrontal areas involved in the analysis of facial expression.

(i.e. at approx. 170 ms the well-known N170 component specifically related to face-processing arises. This is an early face specific ERP component (N170) that has been linked to the pre-categorical structural encoding of faces).


emotion modulation

Emotional stimuli can bias comp for processing resources

Emotion, like attention increase visual cortex responses

Emotional modulation.
• The amygdala receives highly processed visual input from inferior temporal areas TEO and TE.
• At the same time, the amygdala projects to several levels of visual processing, including as early as V1, which allows it to influence visual processing according to the valence of the stimulus.
• Note that the amygdala is also interconnected with, among other regions, the orbitofrontal cortex, another brain structure important for the processing of ‘stimulus significance.’
• Brain regions: green=occipitotemporal visual processing areas; orange/yellow=posterior superior temporal sulcus; red/pink=amygdala (note that the amygdala is not visible from a lateral view of the brain; instead it is situated subcortically near the brain’s medial surface); blue=orbitofrontal cortex (note that important orbitofrontal regions are situated along the midline, and hence are not visible from a lateral view of the brain).


key mechanisms - memory

3 stages processing: encoding, storage and retrieval

Each stage may be relevant to development of psychopathology, i.e., selective encoding/retrieval

Number of factors influence what is encoded and retrieved, e.g. stimulus salience, mood, env, what is personally imp


the weapon focus effect

Demo’s attention and memory interact

Threatening stimuli tend to capture and hold people’s attention, especially when the person is in an aroused/threatened state.

Their scope of attention narrows to focus on the weapon so that they cannot take in other information such as who the perpetrator is – their memory for this is therefore impaired (i.e. this attentional narrowing prevents encoding of other information).

Note this effect is seen for highly arousing emotions (desire, fear, disgust) which evoke the ‘urge to act’ but for low-arousal emotions (e.g. amusement or sadness) the scope of attention tends to be broadened.

The weapon focus effect is similar to the well-known phenomena of “flashbulb memories”

A flashbulb memory is a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid 'snapshot' of the moment and circumstances in which a piece of surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) news was heard, e.g. the assassination of JFK or the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


enhanced memory for positive and negative (v neutral) scenes associated with amygdala activity during encoding

Amygdala damage reverses memory bias for emotional > neutral

Retrieval of autobiographical memories?

9/11 v summer

2001: amygdala response seen in those close to WTC


Hamman et al. (1999)

In this study, participants viewed positive, negative and neutral scenes whilst having a PET scan to measure regional cerebral blood flow.

Recognition memory for the scenes was tested 4 weeks later.

Participants showed enhanced memory for the emotional scenes and the degree of enhancement was positively correlated with amygdala blood flow during encoding of the scenes.

In the second study, three years after 9/11, participants recalled salient autobiographical memories from the Summer or September of 2011.

Those who were close to the WTC showed increased amygdala responses during recall of 9/11 events but not during recall of control (summer) events.


can fear memories be erased?

Sometimes be helpful to alter disturbing memories (e.g. PTSD)

Research suggests memories can be modified by clocking reconsolidation, which requires protein synthesis in amygdala – change it to something less traumatic


important form of elective memory

Mood-congruent memory = selective encoding/retrieval that occurs while indvs in mood state consistent with affective value of material
• An example of mood-congruent memory would be the finding that during a sad mood (e.g., induced due to conflict with one’s partner) it is easier to recall sad information (e.g., the death of a loved one 6 years ago, friends who have moved away etc.)

Hypothesised to be factor in maintenance of depression – as more depressed, recall more neg events, failures and losses


mood-congruent memory

Memories can be triggered by places, events or one’s own mood and can serve to maintain a mood state.

People with depression may recall more negative memories but also show over-general memory – their autobiographical memories are not as detailed and specific.

This over-general memory may protect individuals from re-experiencing too many strong emotional responses associated with specific negative memories.

A recent study suggested that over-general autobiographical memory to negative prompts is a risk factor for depression in 10-18 year olds


easier access/activation of associated sad representations in a 'schema'/semantic network

Mood-state-dependent memory – better free recall when in same mood state at encoding and retrieval

Though congruity – content of thoughts/judgements congruent with mood state

Schema is an “organised packet of information about the world, events, or people stored in long-term memory.”

The emotional state excites the relevant emotion node in memory and through spreading excitation activates associated memories in the associative network.

Findings to support mood-state-dependent memory include Kenealy (1997) who showed that participants were able to free-recall a map route better when they were put in the same mood (triggered by playing the same happy or sad music) at learning and test.

Note, mood-state-dependent retrieval effects are stronger in free recall than recognition memory tests.

This is because the items (e.g. a word) themselves act as cues to retrieval in a recognition task but no cues are provided in a free-recall test so people use their emotional state as a retrieval cue.

To summarise the effects of emotion on memory: 1) people tend to recall emotional material better than neutral material (because it grabs attention and is associated with physiological arousal which enhances encoding); 2) specific emotions help to retrieve mood-congruent material; 3) emotional states can act as contextual cues for memories.


antidepressant effects on memory

After 7 days of antidepressant (SSRI/SNRI) medication, controls showed decreased recognition of neg emotional expressions

Also showed faster reaction times to classify pos v neg words, and greater immediate free recall of pos words

Antidepressants increase pos bias in attention and memory in healthy controls


strengths of cognitive biases in anxiety and depression

Anx has function of anticipating future threat

Depression has function of replacing failed goals with new ones