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Attention and emotion: From data to conceptual issues. Luiz Pessoa Department of Psychology University of Maryland, College Park. Background. 1990s: work showing limitations of visual processing and the need for attention Change blindness Attentional blink. L. R.

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Attention and emotion from data to conceptual issues
Attention and emotion: From data to conceptual issues

Luiz Pessoa

Department of Psychology

University of Maryland, College Park


Background
Background conceptual issues

  • 1990s: work showing limitations of visual processing and the need for attention

    • Change blindness

    • Attentional blink


Background1

L conceptual issues

R

Whalen et al. (1998)

Morris et al. (1998)

Background

  • Processing of emotion-laden information is prioritized

    • Independent of awareness


Automatic processing
“Automatic” Processing conceptual issues

Amygdala

LeDoux


Research goal
Research goal conceptual issues

  • Understand the role of attention and awareness during the processing of emotional visual items

    • Employ strong attentional manipulations

    • Evaluate awareness with Signal Detection Theory


Role of spatial attention
Role of spatial attention conceptual issues

  • Is activity evoked by emotional faces automatic?

    OR

  • Does activity evoked by emotional faces require attention?


Spatial attention
Spatial attention conceptual issues

Unattended Faces

Attended Faces

Not drawn to scale

200 ms

200 ms

Male/female

Same/different

Easy: 91% correct

Difficult: 64% correct


Attention is required for the expression of valence n 21

Right Amygdala conceptual issues

Fear ATT

0.25

Fear UNATT

0.2

Happy ATT

Response Amplitude

0.15

Happy UNATT

Neutral ATT

0.1

Neutral UNATT

0.05

0

-0.05

-0.1

0

2

4

6

8

10

12

Seconds

Attention is required for the expression of valence (N = 21)

  • Strong valence X attention interaction: Effect of valence depends on attention

L

R

X

Pessoa et al. (2002): PNAS


Emotional perception requires attention
Emotional perception requires attention conceptual issues

  • Attention parametrically manipulated within the same task

  • Affective significance enhanced via conditioning

Easy

Hard

Pessoa et al. (2005): Neuroimage

Task: find X

Hsu and Pessoa (2007): Neuropsychologia

Lim et al. (2008): Neuropsychologia


Role of visual awareness

Confidence? conceptual issues

Role of visual awareness

Target

Mask

Yes/No

1-3 scale

Pessoa et al. (2005): Emotion


Visual awareness signal detection

67 ms conceptual issues

33 ms

Visual awareness: Signal Detection


Amygdala responses

33 ms conceptual issues

UNAWARE

L

L

R

R

67 ms

Y = -4

AWARE

Y = -4

Amygdala responses

VS.

Pessoa et al. (2006): Cerebral Cortex


Behavioral results individual differences
Behavioral results: Individual differences conceptual issues

  • Many participants can detect fearful faces even at 17 ms

17 ms

Szczepanowski and Pessoa et al. (2007): Journal of Vision


Fear stimulus neutral stimulus amygdala

67 ms conceptual issues

33 ms

AWARE

UNAWARE

“Normals”

N = 19

L

L

L

L

R

R

R

R

Y = -4

Y = -4

AWARE

AWARE

“Detecters”

N = 8

Y = -6

Y = -6

Fear stimulus > Neutral stimulusAmygdala

x

.

Pessoa et al. (2006): Cerebral Cortex


Role of temporal attention awareness
Role of temporal attention/awareness conceptual issues

CS+ vs. CS–

T1

T2

. . .

. . .

100 ms

100 ms

2 s

Lim, Padmala, and Pessoa (2009): PNAS


Attentional blink behavior n 30
Attentional blink: Behavior (N = 30) conceptual issues

  • Enhanced perception of CS+: Reduced blink

CS+

Building or House?

CS–

T1

T2


Role of attention awareness
Role of attention/awareness conceptual issues

T2

. . .

. . .

Parahippocampal gyrus


Miss trials
Miss trials conceptual issues

T2

. . .

. . .

Parahippocampal gyrus


Role of attention awareness1
Role of attention/awareness conceptual issues

Visual ctx

% signal change

CS+

  • Miss trials: no differences observed between CS+ and CS- trials

CS-

Amygdala

% signal change

Time


Conceptual issues
Conceptual issues conceptual issues


Impasse
Impasse conceptual issues

  • While a great deal has been learned about the extent and limits of affective visual processing, two camps have opposing and entrenched views


Impasse1
Impasse conceptual issues

  • While a great deal has been learned about the extent and limits of affective visual processing, two camps have opposing and entrenched views

Capacity-limited

Capacity-Unlimited


Impasse2
Impasse conceptual issues

  • While a great deal has been learned about the extent and limits of affective visual processing, two camps have opposing and entrenched views

Capacity-limited

Capacity-Unlimited


Not too surprising
Not too surprising… conceptual issues

  • Emotional stimuli are sufficiently potent that they exhibit a host of properties that do not appear to occur with neutral items

    • They are processed when unattended

  • Affective processing is subject to capacity limitations, as revealed by several experimental manipulations

    • Attentional blink


Impasse will it go away
Impasse: will it go away? conceptual issues

  • Advocates of limited processing can claim that processing resources have not been consumed

    • “If the manipulation were stronger, the impact of affective items would go away…”


Impasse3
Impasse conceptual issues

  • Showing that the emotional effect has disappeared is always subject to the “null problem”

    • Arguing for the absence of an effect


Power vs strength of manipulation

Fear unatt conceptual issues

Happy unatt

Neutral unatt

Power vs. strength of manipulation

Left Amygdala

0.25

Right Amygdala

0.2

Fear att

0.15

Happy att

0.1

Neutral att

0.05

Response Amplitude

0

-0.05

X

-0.1

0

2

4

6

8

10

12

Seconds

0

2

4

6

8

10

12

Seconds

Pessoa et al. (2002): PNAS


Processing resources
Processing resources conceptual issues

  • Given the limited capacity of mental processes, performance is impaired if demands are greater than available resources

Easy/efficient

performance

Hard/inefficient

processing resources

Norman and Bobrow (1975)


Processing resources1
Processing resources conceptual issues

performance

processing resources

performance

“automatic”

Nakayama and Joseph (1998)

processing resources


Processing resources2
Processing resources conceptual issues

performance

processing resources

performance

Capacity limitation

Dual-tasks

Nakayama and Joseph (1998)

processing resources


Processing resources3
Processing resources conceptual issues

  • Moors and De Houwer (2006): Every process is uncontrolled, efficient, unconcious, and fast


Processing resources4
Processing resources conceptual issues

  • Moors and De Houwer (2006): Every process is uncontrolled, efficient, unconcious, and fast, to some degree…

  • Relative to what?

  • Affective processing: relative to neutral not enough

    • Fine comparisons needed (e.g., abrupt onsets, search, etc.)

    • Broad set of comparison tasks


Two camps
Two camps conceptual issues

Capacity-limited

Capacity-Unlimited


Preattentive attentive model
Preattentive-attentive model conceptual issues

Stage 2:

Attentive

t2

t1

boundary

Stage 1:

Preattentive


Preattentive attentive model1
Preattentive-attentive model conceptual issues

  • Some features are processed pre-attentively in virtue of the fact that they are optimally matched to properties of the early visual system (e.g., orientation)

  • Affective processing: Sub-cortical pathway

    • Superior colliculus  pulvinar  amygdala


Dynamic model
Dynamic model conceptual issues

Multiple interactive “stages”


Dynamic model1
Dynamic model conceptual issues

  • Processing is not pre-attentive or attentive, but a gradient of processing efficiency is hypothesized to exist

  • Gradient based on the properties of early visual areas

  • But critically, gradient is dynamically configured based on task demands

  • Configuring is suggested to depend on parietal and frontal cortex


Dynamic model2
Dynamic model conceptual issues

More susceptible to capacity limitations

  • Multiple “gates”

  • Variable permeability

“bottlenecks”

Less susceptible to capacity limitations


Dynamic model3
Dynamic model conceptual issues

  • Hierarchical and “short-cut” connections


Multiple waves
Multiple waves conceptual issues

  • Initial processing of visual information proceeds simultaneously along parallel channels

  • “Multiple waves” of activation across visual cortex and beyond

  • The multiple waves are engaged dynamically based on task requirements


Subcortical processing
Subcortical processing conceptual issues


Subcortical processing1
Subcortical processing conceptual issues

“passive”

“integrative”

Pessoa and Adolphs, Nat. Rev. Neurosci (2010)


Subcortical processing2
Subcortical processing conceptual issues

Pessoa and Adolphs, Nat. Rev. Neurosci (2010)


Processing architecture and attention
Processing architecture and conceptual issuesattention

Task 2

Task 1


Collaborators

Ralph Adolphs conceptual issues

Jan Engelmann

Shruti Japee

Shen-Mou Hsu

Seung-Lark Lim

Srikanth Padmala

Remik Szczepanowski

Leslie Ungerleider

Collaborators

National Institute of Mental Health

emotioncognition.org


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