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Beyond arousal and valence: the importance of the biological versus social relevance of emotional stimuli

Sakaki, M., Niki, N. and Mather, M. (2012) Beyond arousal and valence: the importance of the biological versus social relevance of emotional stimuli. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 12 (1). pp. 115-139. ISSN 1531-135X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3758/s13415-011-0062-x

Abstract/Summary

The present study addressed the hypothesis that emotional stimuli relevant to survival or reproduction (biologically emotional stimuli) automatically affect cognitive processing (e.g., attention, memory), while those relevant to social life (socially emotional stimuli) require elaborative processing to modulate attention and memory. Results of our behavioral studies showed that (1) biologically emotional images hold attention more strongly than do socially emotional images, (2) memory for biologically emotional images was enhanced even with limited cognitive resources, but (3) memory for socially emotional images was enhanced only when people had sufficient cognitive resources at encoding. Neither images’ subjective arousal nor their valence modulated these patterns. A subsequent functional magnetic resonance imaging study revealed that biologically emotional images induced stronger activity in the visual cortex and greater functional connectivity between the amygdala and visual cortex than did socially emotional images. These results suggest that the interconnection between the amygdala and visual cortex supports enhanced attention allocation to biological stimuli. In contrast, socially emotional images evoked greater activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and yielded stronger functional connectivity between the amygdala and MPFC than did biological images. Thus, it appears that emotional processing of social stimuli involves elaborative processing requiring frontal lobe activity.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:No
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:33950
Publisher:Springer

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