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Journal Article

Emotional modulation of the attentional blink and the relation to interpersonal reactivity


Kanske,  Philipp
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kanske, P., Schönfelder, S., & Wessa, M. (2013). Emotional modulation of the attentional blink and the relation to interpersonal reactivity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7: 641. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00641.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-5348-1
The extent of the attentional blink effect on detection rates in rapid serial visual presentations is modulated by the emotionality of the stimuli. Emotionally salient stimuli are detected more often, even if presented in the attentional blink period, and elicit an enlarged P3 response, which has been interpreted as enhanced consolidation. This effect correlates with individual differences in trait affectivity such as anxiety or dysphoria. Here, we ask if it is also related to the capacity to detect emotions in others, i.e. to interpersonal social traits. We therefore presented emotional and neutral images depicting social scenes as targets in an attentional blink design and measured detection rates and event-related potentials. In addition, we recorded self-reports of empathy as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index. The results show enhanced performance for emotional stimuli and increased P3 amplitudes, which correlated with individual differences in empathy. The data suggest that self-reported empathy goes along with enhanced processing of emotion in social stimuli, even under stimulus conditions that are suboptimal for conscious target detection.