Attending to Affect: Appraisal Strategies Modulate the Electrocortical Response to Arousing Pictures

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Abstract

Arousing (unpleasant and pleasant) pictures elicit increased neurophysiological measures of perceptual processing. In particular, the electrocortical late positive potential (LPP) is enhanced for arousing, compared with neutral, pictures. To determine whether the magnitude of the LPP is sensitive to the way stimuli are appraised, 16 participants viewed both pleasant and unpleasant pictures and categorized them along an affective or nonaffective dimension. Results indicate that the LPP was reduced for both pleasant and unpleasant pictures when participants made nonaffective, compared with affective, judgments. These results are consistent with previous studies that have used functional neuroimaging to investigate the role of appraisal on emotional processing. The results are further discussed in terms of the utility of using the LPP to study emotion regulation.

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