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Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 1228–1258

First Online: 29 March 2014

Abstract

Current knowledge on the architecture of exogenous attention also called automatic, bottom-up, or stimulus-driven attention, among other terms has been mainly obtained from studies employing neutral, anodyne stimuli. Since, from an evolutionary perspective, exogenous attention can be understood as an adaptive tool for rapidly detecting salient events, reorienting processing resources to them, and enhancing processing mechanisms, emotional events which are, by definition, salient for the individual would seem crucial to a comprehensive understanding of this process. This review, focusing on the visual modality, describes 55 experiments in which both emotional and neutral irrelevant distractors are presented at the same time as ongoing task targets. Qualitative and, when possible, meta-analytic descriptions of results are provided. The most conspicuous result is that, as confirmed by behavioral and-or neural indices, emotional distractors capture exogenous attention to a significantly greater extent than do neutral distractors. The modulatory effects of the nature of distractors capturing attention, of the ongoing task characteristics, and of individual differences, previously proposed as mediating factors, are also described. Additionally, studies reviewed here provide temporal and spatial information—partially absent in traditional cognitive models—on the neural basis of preattention-evaluation, reorienting, and sensory amplification, the main subprocesses involved in exogenous attention. A model integrating these different levels of information is proposed. The present review, which reveals that there are several key issues for which experimental data are surprisingly scarce, confirms the relevance of including emotional distractors in studies on exogenous attention.

KeywordsExogenous attention Automatic attention Emotion Preattention Reorienting Sensory amplification ERPs fMRI  Download fulltext PDF



Author: Luis Carretié

Source: https://link.springer.com/



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