Scientific article
Open access

Beyond Fear. Rapid Spatial Orienting Toward Positive Emotional Stimuli

Published inPsychological science, vol. 19, no. 4, p. 362-370
Publication date2008

There is much empirical evidence for modulation of attention by negative—particularly fear-relevant—emotional stimuli. This modulation is often explained in terms of a fear module. Appraisal theories of emotion posit a more general mechanism, predicting attention capture by stimuli that are relevant for the needs and goals of the organism, regardless of valence. To examine the brain-activation patterns underlying attentional modulation, we recorded event-related potentials from 20 subjects performing a dot-probe task in which the cues were fear-inducing and nurturance-inducing stimuli (i.e., anger faces and baby faces). Highly similar validity odulation was found for the P1 time-locked to target onset, indicating early attentional capture by both positive and negative emotional stimuli. Topographic segmentation analysis and source localization indicate that the same amplification process is involved whether attention orienting is triggered by negative, fear-relevant stimuli or positive, nurturance-relevant stimuli. These results confirm that biological relevance, and not exclusively fear, produces an automatic spatial orienting toward the location of a stimulus.

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Citation (ISO format)
BROSCH, Tobias et al. Beyond Fear. Rapid Spatial Orienting Toward Positive Emotional Stimuli. In: Psychological science, 2008, vol. 19, n° 4, p. 362–370. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02094.x
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0956-7976

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