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Feature-based inhibition underlies the affective consequences of attention

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Rapid selection of a target in the presence of similar distractors can cause subsequent affective evaluation of a distractor to be more negative than that for the selected object. This distractor devaluation effect has previously been attributed to an association of attentional inhibition with the distractor's representation. Here, we investigated whether the associated inhibition leading to distractor devaluation is object based or feature based. Using colour-tinted face and building stimuli in a two-item simple visual search, followed by evaluation of face stimuli on a trustworthiness scale, we report that emotional evaluation was modified by prior attention whenever the search stimuli and the to-be-evaluated face shared the distractor feature, regardless of whether face identity seen in the two successive tasks matched or not. These data support the notion that inhibition can be feature-based and show that such inhibition can have emotional consequences.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Bangor University, Bangor, UK 2: University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 3: Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK 4: King's College, University of London, London, UK

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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