Positive emotion impedes emotional but not cognitive conflict processing.
ABSTRACT: Cognitive control enables successful goal-directed behavior by resolving a conflict between opposing action tendencies, while emotional control arises as a consequence of emotional conflict processing such as in irony. While negative emotion facilitates both cognitive and emotional conflict processing, it is unclear how emotional conflict processing is affected by positive emotion (e.g., humor). In 2 EEG experiments, we investigated the role of positive audiovisual target stimuli in cognitive and emotional conflict processing. Participants categorized either spoken vowels (cognitive task) or their emotional valence (emotional task) and ignored the visual stimulus dimension. Behaviorally, a positive target showed no influence on cognitive conflict processing, but impeded emotional conflict processing. In the emotional task, response time conflict costs were higher for positive than for neutral targets. In the EEG, we observed an interaction of emotion by congruence in the P200 and N200 ERP components in emotional but not in cognitive conflict processing. In the emotional conflict task, the P200 and N200 conflict effect was larger for emotional than neutral targets. Thus, our results show that emotion affects conflict processing differently as a function of conflict type and emotional valence. This suggests that there are conflict- and valence-specific mechanisms modulating executive control.
Project description:Healthy aging is characterized by a gradual decline in cognitive control and inhibition of interferences, while emotional control is either preserved or facilitated. Emotional control regulates the processing of emotional conflicts such as in irony in speech, and cognitive control resolves conflict between non-affective tendencies. While negative emotion can trigger control processes and speed up resolution of both cognitive and emotional conflicts, we know little about how aging affects the interaction of emotion and control. In two EEG experiments, we compared the influence of negative emotion on cognitive and emotional conflict processing in groups of younger adults (mean age = 25.2 years) and older adults (69.4 years). Participants viewed short video clips and either categorized spoken vowels (cognitive conflict) or their emotional valence (emotional conflict), while the visual facial information was congruent or incongruent. Results show that negative emotion modulates both cognitive and emotional conflict processing in younger and older adults as indicated in reduced response times and/or enhanced event-related potentials (ERPs). In emotional conflict processing, we observed a valence-specific N100 ERP component in both age groups. In cognitive conflict processing, we observed an interaction of emotion by congruence in the N100 responses in both age groups, and a main effect of congruence in the P200 and N200. Thus, the influence of emotion on conflict processing remains intact in aging, despite a marked decline in cognitive control. Older adults may prioritize emotional wellbeing and preserve the role of emotion in cognitive and emotional control.
Project description:Cognitive control supports goal-directed behavior by resolving conflict among opposing action tendencies. Emotion can trigger cognitive control processes, thus speeding up conflict processing when the target dimension of stimuli is emotional. However, it is unclear what role emotionality of the target dimension plays in the processing of emotional conflict (e.g. in irony). In two EEG experiments, we compared the influence of emotional valence of the target (emotional, neutral) in cognitive and emotional conflict processing. To maximally approximate real-life communication, we used audiovisual stimuli. Participants either categorized spoken vowels (cognitive conflict) or their emotional valence (emotional conflict), while visual information was congruent or incongruent. Emotional target dimension facilitated both cognitive and emotional conflict processing, as shown in a reduced reaction time conflict effect. In contrast, the N100 in the event-related potentials showed a conflict-specific reversal: the conflict effect was larger for emotional compared with neutral trials in cognitive conflict and smaller in emotional conflict. Additionally, domain-general conflict effects were observed in the P200 and N200 responses. The current findings confirm that emotions have a strong influence on cognitive and emotional conflict processing. They also highlight the complexity and heterogeneity of the interaction of emotion with different types of conflict.
Project description:Both facial expression and tone of voice represent key signals of emotional communication but their brain processing correlates remain unclear. Accordingly, we constructed a novel implicit emotion recognition task consisting of simultaneously presented human faces and voices with neutral, happy, and angry valence, within the context of recognizing monkey faces and voices task. To investigate the temporal unfolding of the processing of affective information from human face-voice pairings, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to these audiovisual test stimuli in 18 normal healthy subjects; N100, P200, N250, P300 components were observed at electrodes in the frontal-central region, while P100, N170, P270 were observed at electrodes in the parietal-occipital region. Results indicated a significant audiovisual stimulus effect on the amplitudes and latencies of components in frontal-central (P200, P300, and N250) but not the parietal occipital region (P100, N170 and P270). Specifically, P200 and P300 amplitudes were more positive for emotional relative to neutral audiovisual stimuli, irrespective of valence, whereas N250 amplitude was more negative for neutral relative to emotional stimuli. No differentiation was observed between angry and happy conditions. The results suggest that the general effect of emotion on audiovisual processing can emerge as early as 200 msec (P200 peak latency) post stimulus onset, in spite of implicit affective processing task demands, and that such effect is mainly distributed in the frontal-central region.
Project description:Progressive hearing loss is a common phenomenon in healthy aging and may affect the perception of emotions expressed in speech. Elderly with mild to moderate hearing loss often rate emotional expressions as less emotional and display reduced activity in emotion-sensitive brain areas (e.g., amygdala). However, it is not clear how hearing loss affects cognitive and emotional control mechanisms engaged in multimodal speech processing. In previous work we showed that negative, task-relevant and -irrelevant emotion modulates the two types of control in younger and older adults without hearing loss. To further explore how reduced hearing capacity affects emotional and cognitive control, we tested whether moderate hearing loss (>30 dB) at frequencies relevant for speech impacts cognitive and emotional control. We tested two groups of older adults with hearing loss (HL; <i>N</i> = 21; mean age = 70.5) and without hearing loss (NH; <i>N</i> = 21; mean age = 68.4). In two EEG experiments participants observed multimodal video clips and either categorized pronounced vowels (cognitive conflict) or their emotions (emotional conflict). Importantly, the facial expressions were either matched or mismatched with the corresponding vocalizations. In both conflict tasks, we found that negative stimuli modulated behavioral conflict processing in the NH but not the HL group, while the HL group performed at chance level in the emotional conflict task. Further, we found that the amplitude difference between congruent and incongruent stimuli was larger in negative relative to neutral N100 responses across tasks and groups. Lastly, in the emotional conflict task, neutral stimuli elicited a smaller N200 response than emotional stimuli primarily in the HL group. Consequently, age-related hearing loss not only affects the processing of emotional acoustic cues but also alters the behavioral benefits of emotional stimuli on cognitive and emotional control, despite preserved early neural responses. The resulting difficulties in the multimodal integration of incongruent emotional stimuli may lead to problems in processing complex social information (irony, sarcasm) and impact emotion processing in the limbic network. This could be related to social isolation and depression observed in the elderly with age-related hearing loss.
Project description:The attention-grabbing quality of the infant cry is well recognized, but how the emotional valence of infant vocal signals affects adult cognition and cortical activity has heretofore been unknown. We examined the effects of two contrasting infant vocalizations (cries vs. laughs) on adult performance on a Stroop task using a cross-modal distraction paradigm in which infant distractors were vocal and targets were visual. Infant vocalizations were presented before (Experiment 1) or during each Stroop trial (Experiment 2). To evaluate the influence of infant vocalizations on cognitive control, neural responses to the Stroop task were obtained by measuring electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs) in Experiment 1. Based on the previously demonstrated existence of negative arousal bias, we hypothesized that cry vocalizations would be more distracting and invoke greater conflict processing than laugh vocalizations. Similarly, we expected participants to have greater difficulty shifting attention from the vocal distractors to the target task after hearing cries vs. after hearing laughs. Behavioral results from both experiments showed a cry interference effect, in which task performance was slower with cry than with laugh distractors. Electrophysiology data further revealed that cries more than laughs reduced attention to the task (smaller P200) and increased conflict processing (larger N450), albeit differently for incongruent and congruent trials. Results from a correlation analysis showed that the amplitudes of P200 and N450 were inversely related, suggesting a reciprocal relationship between attention and conflict processing. The findings suggest that cognitive control processes contribute to an attention bias to infant signals, which is modulated in part by the valence of the infant vocalization and the demands of the cognitive task. The findings thus support the notion that infant cries elicit a negative arousal bias that is distracting; they also identify, for the first time, the neural dynamics underlying the unique influence that infant cries and laughs have on cognitive control.
Project description:Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an increasingly common developmental disorder that affects 1 in 59 children. Despite this high prevalence of ASD, knowledge regarding the biological basis of its associated cognitive difficulties remains scant. In this study, we aimed to identify altered neurophysiological responses underlying inhibitory control and emotion processing difficulties in ASD, together with their associations with age and various domains of cognitive and social function. This was accomplished by assessing electroencephalographic recordings during an emotional go/nogo task alongside parent rating scales of behavior. Event related potential (ERP) N200 component amplitudes were reduced in children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children. No group differences were found, however, for task performance, P300 amplitude or latency, or N170 amplitude or latency, suggesting that individuals with ASD may only present conflict monitoring abnormalities, as reflected by the reduced N200 component, compared to TD individuals. Consistent with previous findings, increased age correlated with improved task performance scores and reduced N200 amplitude in the TD group, indicating that as these children develop, their neural systems become more efficient. These associations were not identified in the ASD group. Results also showed significant associations between increased N200 amplitudes and improved executive control abilities and decreased autism traits in TD children only. The newly discovered findings of decreased brain activation in children with ASD, alongside differences in correlations with age compared to TD children, provide a potential neurophysiological indicator of atypical development of inhibitory control mechanisms in these individuals.
Project description:The prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotional conflict resolution, and this control mechanism is affected by the emotional valence of distracting stimuli. In the present study, we investigated effects of negative and positive stimuli on emotional conflict control using a face-word Stroop task in combination with functional brain imaging. Emotional conflict was absent in the negative face context, in accordance with the null activation observed in areas regarding emotional face processing (fusiform face area, middle temporal/occipital gyrus). Importantly, these visual areas negatively coupled with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). However, the significant emotional conflict was observed in the positive face context, this effect was accompanied by activation in areas associated with emotional face processing, and the default mode network (DMN), here, DLPFC mainly negatively coupled with DMN, rather than visual areas. These results suggested that the conflict control mechanism exerted differently between negative faces and positive faces, it implemented more efficiently in the negative face condition, whereas it is more devoted to inhibiting internal interference in the positive face condition. This study thus provides a plausible mechanism of emotional conflict resolution that the rapid pathway for negative emotion processing efficiently triggers control mechanisms to preventively resolve emotional conflict.
Project description:In depression, patients suffer from emotional and cognitive deficits, among others in semantic processing. If these semantic deficits are cognitive or interact with emotional dysfunctions, is still an open question. The aim of the current study was to investigate the influence of emotional valence on the neural correlates of semantic priming in major depression. In a lexical decision task, positive, negative, and neutral word pairs were presented during fMRI measurement. Nineteen inpatients and 19 demographically matched controls were recruited. Behaviorally, positive and neutral valence induced a priming effect whereas negative valence induced no effect (controls) or even inhibition (slower RT for related stimuli) in patients. At the neural level, the semantic relation effect revealed similar neural activation in right middle frontal regions for patients and controls. Group differences emerged in the right fusiform gyrus and the ACC. Activity associated with positive valence differed at the DLPFC and amygdala and for negative valence at putamen and cerebellum. The activation of amygdala and DLPFC correlated negatively with the severity of depression. To conclude, semantic processing deficits in depression are modulated by emotional valence of the stimulus on the behavioral as well as on neural level in right-lateralized prefrontal areas and the amygdala. The results highlighted an influence of depression severity on emotion information processing as the severity of symptoms correlated negatively with neural responses to positively and negatively valenced information. Hence, the dysfunctional emotion processing may further enhance the cognitive deficits in depression.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) clinically exhibit a deficit in positive emotional processing and are often distracted by especially negative emotional stimuli. Such emotional-cognitive interference in turn hampers the cognitive abilities of patients in their ongoing task. While the psychological correlates of such emotional conflict have been well identified in healthy subjects, possible alterations of emotional conflict in depressed patients remain to be investigated. We conducted an exploratory psychological study to investigate emotional conflict in MDD. We also distinguished depression-related stimuli from negative stimuli in order to check whether the depression-related distractors will induce enhanced conflict in MDD.<h4>Methods</h4>A typical word-face Stroop paradigm was adopted. In order to account for valence-specificities in MDD, we included positive and general negative as well as depression-related words in the study.<h4>Results</h4>MDD patients demonstrated a specific pattern of emotional conflict clearly distinguishable from the healthy control group. In MDD, the positive distractor words did not significantly interrupt the processing of the negative target faces, while they did in healthy subjects. On the other hand, the depression-related distractor words induced significant emotional conflict to the positive target faces in MDD patients but not in the healthy control group.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our findings demonstrated for the first time an altered valence-specific pattern in emotional conflict in MDD patients. The study sheds a novel and specific light on the affective mechanisms underlying the abnormal emotional-cognitive interference in MDD. Such emotional conflict bears important clinical relevance since it may trigger the widespread cognitive dysfunctions frequently observed in MDD. The present findings may have important clinical implications in both prediction and psychotherapy of MDD.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Neural systems underlying conflict processing have been well studied in the cognitive realm, but the extent to which these overlap with those underlying emotional conflict processing remains unclear. A novel adaptation of the AX Continuous Performance Task (AX-CPT), a stimulus-response incompatibility paradigm, was examined that permits close comparison of emotional and cognitive conflict conditions, through the use of affectively-valenced facial expressions as the response modality.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Brain activity was monitored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of the emotional AX-CPT. Emotional conflict was manipulated on a trial-by-trial basis, by requiring contextually pre-cued facial expressions to emotional probe stimuli (IAPS images) that were either affectively compatible (low-conflict) or incompatible (high-conflict). The emotion condition was contrasted against a matched cognitive condition that was identical in all respects, except that probe stimuli were emotionally neutral. Components of the brain cognitive control network, including dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), showed conflict-related activation increases in both conditions, but with higher activity during emotion conditions. In contrast, emotion conflict effects were not found in regions associated with affective processing, such as rostral ACC.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>These activation patterns provide evidence for a domain-general neural system that is active for both emotional and cognitive conflict processing. In line with previous behavioural evidence, greatest activity in these brain regions occurred when both emotional and cognitive influences additively combined to produce increased interference.