See no evil: directing visual attention within unpleasant images modulates the electrocortical response.Psychophysiology. 2009 Jan; 46(1):28-33.P
The late positive potential (LPP) is larger for emotional than neutral stimuli, and reflects increased attention to motivationally salient stimuli. Recent studies have shown that the LPP can also be modulated by stimulus meaning and task relevance. The present studies sought to determine whether the magnitude of the LPP can be manipulated by directing attention to more or less arousing aspects within an emotional stimulus. To this end, trials included a passive viewing and directed attention portion. In both Studies 1 and 2, unpleasant compared to neutral images were associated with an increased LPP during passive viewing; additionally, directing attention to non-arousing compared to highly arousing areas of unpleasant images resulted in a decreased LPP. Results are discussed in terms of the utility of using the LPP to understand emotion-cognition interactions, especially with regard to directed visual attention as an emotion regulation strategy.