The selective processing of emotional visual stimuli while detecting auditory targets: an ERP analysis.Brain Res. 2008 Sep 16; 1230:168-76.BR
Event-related potential studies revealed an early posterior negativity (EPN) for emotional compared to neutral pictures. Exploring the emotion-attention relationship, a previous study observed that a primary visual discrimination task interfered with the emotional modulation of the EPN component. To specify the locus of interference, the present study assessed the fate of selective visual emotion processing while attention is directed towards the auditory modality. While simply viewing a rapid and continuous stream of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant pictures in one experimental condition, processing demands of a concurrent auditory target discrimination task were systematically varied in three further experimental conditions. Participants successfully performed the auditory task as revealed by behavioral performance and selected event-related potential components. Replicating previous results, emotional pictures were associated with a larger posterior negativity compared to neutral pictures. Of main interest, increasing demands of the auditory task did not modulate the selective processing of emotional visual stimuli. With regard to the locus of interference, selective emotion processing as indexed by the EPN does not seem to reflect shared processing resources of visual and auditory modality.