Emotional modulation of the attentional blink: The neural structures involved in capturing and holding attention

  • Schwabe L
  • Merz C
  • Walter B
 et al. 
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Perceiving a first target stimulus (T1) in a rapid serial visual presentation stream results in a transient impairment in detecting a second target (T2). This " attentional blink" is modulated by the emotional relevance of T1 and T2. The present experiment examined the neural underpinnings of the emotional modulation of the attentional blink. Behaviorally, the attentional blink was reduced for emotional T2 while emotional T1 led to a prolonged attentional blink. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we observed amygdala activation associated with the reduced attentional blink for emotional T2 in the face of neutral T1. The prolonged attentional blink following emotional T1 was correlated with enhanced activity in a cortical network including the anterior cingulate cortex, the insula and the orbitofrontal cortex. These results suggest that brain areas previously implicated in rather reflexive emotional reactions are responsible for the reduced attentional blink for emotional T2 whereas neural structures previously related to higher level processing of emotional information mediate the prolonged attentional blink following emotional T1. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Attention
  • Attentional blink
  • Emotion
  • Orbitofrontal cortex

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