Psychophysiological Correlates of Attention to Emotional Information in Youth

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Abstract

Attention to emotional stimuli has been associated with psychological health among adults and youth. In this study, we examined 2 putative functional psychophysiological correlates of attention to emotional information in a community sample of 135 youth (Mage= 12 years, 7 months; SDage = 1 year, 1 month; 50% girls). After measuring resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), participants completed a 1,500 ms emotional faces dot probe task with eye tracking. We examined pupil dilation during angry, sad, and happy trials and predicted that lower resting RSA and greater pupil dilation would be associated with relatively greater attention to negative stimuli. Results partially confirmed our hypothesis. Lower resting RSA was associated with relatively greater attention to sad faces. Lower resting RSA was also associated with relatively greater attention to angry faces when pupil dilation was lower. RSA may be an important functional correlate of attention that should be explored further in future research.

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