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Processing of emotional visual scenes outside the focus of spatial attention: The role of eccentricity

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Pairs of emotional-neutral pictures were presented parafoveally or peripherally (i.e., 2.2° or 5.2° away from fixation) as primes for 150 ms, followed by a recognition probe. The probe was either identical or related in semantic content to one of the primes. Physical features (colour, size, and spatial orientation) were always different for the primes and the probe. Results indicated that, for parafoveal displays, hit rate and sensitivity ( A ′) were higher for the identical emotional probes than for the identical neutral probes; in contrast, for peripheral displays there were more false alarms for the related emotional probes than for the related neutral probes. It is concluded that processing of specific semantic content is more likely to be obtained from emotional than from neutral scenes in parafoveal vision, whereas an overall, vague impression is extracted in peripheral vision.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13506280500418413

Affiliations: University of La Laguna, Spain

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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