Neural response to emotional pictures is unaffected by concurrent task difficulty: an event-related potential study.Behav Neurosci. 2007 Dec; 121(6):1156-62.BN
The late positive potential (LPP) is an event-related potential that is enhanced when viewing arousing (pleasant and unpleasant) pictures compared to neutral pictures. The affective modulation of the LPP is believed to reflect the increased attention to, and perceptual processing of, emotional stimuli. The present study examined whether concurrent task difficulty (performing mathematics) would modulate the LPP while participants viewed emotionally arousing stimuli. Results indicated that the LPP was larger following pleasant and unpleasant stimuli than it was following neutral stimuli; moreover, the magnitude of this increase was not influenced by concurrent task difficulty. This finding suggests that the affective modulation of neural activity during picture viewing is relatively automatic and is insusceptible to competing task demands. Results are further discussed in terms of the LPP's role in motivated attention and implications for research on emotion regulation.