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Threat-Relevance Impairs Executive Functions: Negative Impact on Working Memory and Response Inhibition
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2012 (English)In: Emotion, ISSN 1528-3542, E-ISSN 1931-1516, Vol. 12, no 2, 384-393 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The effects of emotional stimulus content on attention are well-known. In contrast, the impact of emotional information on higher executive control functions is undetermined. To elucidate the role of negative emotion in cognitive control, 56 adult female participants performed a combined working memory and response inhibition task, with threat-relevant (spider and snake) and neutral (flower and mushroom) stimuli. Threat-relevant stimuli impaired performance, by causing prolonged response times to working memory items and increased response inhibition error rate relative to neutral stimuli. The impaired response inhibition was only evident when threat-relevant stimuli co-occurred with working memory matches, in line with a common resource pool view of executive functions and emotion processing. Individual differences in reported fear of spiders were associated with differences of inhibitory control, while fear of snakes was associated with impaired overall accuracy on working memory trials. The results are discussed in relation to the dual-competition framework for interaction between executive functions and emotion (Pessoa, 2009).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 12, no 2, 384-393 p.
Keyword [en]
emotion, executive functions, working memory, response inhibition, dual competition
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-173653DOI: 10.1037/a0027305ISI: 000302200000022OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-173653DiVA: diva2:524476
Available from: 2012-05-02 Created: 2012-05-02 Last updated: 2012-05-02Bibliographically approved

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Bohlin, Gunilla
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