Emotionally arousing stimuli compete for attention with left hemispace.Neuroreport. 2007 Dec 03; 18(18):1929-33.N
Rapid interaction of the emotional and attentional networks is critical for adaptive behavior. Here, we examined the effects of emotional stimulation on hemifield attention allocation using event-related potential and behavioral measures. Participants performed a visual-discrimination task on nonemotional targets presented randomly in the left or right hemifield. A brief task-irrelevant emotional (pleasant or unpleasant; 150-ms duration) or neutral picture was presented centrally 350 ms before the next target (150-ms duration). Unpleasant stimuli interfered with the left visual field attention capacity, slowing behavioral responses to attended left field stimuli. In keeping with the behavioral data, event-related potential responses to nonemotional attended left field stimuli were reduced over the right parietal regions when preceded by an unpleasant event. The results provide electrophysiological and behavioral evidence that unpleasant, emotionally arousing stimuli interfere with the right hemisphere-dependent attention capacity.