One distracter was obviously wrong, while the other two seemed reasonable but were not correct. Each test block included 20 target faces and 20 distracter faces. Age differences in emotion recognition between Chinese younger and older adults. With this assumption, it is probable that music is more powerful pain distracter in women rather than in men. Music can effectively reduce pain perception in women rather than men. Taste interacts with sound symbolism. In addition, Study 3 included a condition that captures aspects of the standard flanker SI condition, thus testing whether more than just interference can be observed in our incidental distracter paradigm.
If the student answers an item incorrectly, based on the distracter option the student chose, the system will present the individualized instruction prompts with different levels to the student, as shown in Figure 6.
Computerized dynamic adaptive tests with immediately individualized feedback for primary school mathematics learning. How do normal and sensory-impaired brains decide which signals to integrate goal , or suppress distracter Audiovisual AV integration only helps for spatially and temporally aligned stimuli. ANEW provides ratings of valence, arousal, frequency, and length for each word, and the means standard errors in brackets for each word valence category are reported here. All words were used in Experiment 2; only neutral words were used in Experiment 1.
The beginning of each trial was indicated by a fixation cross that temporarily grew in size.
The horizontal distance between the center of each face was 3. The WM maintenance period began when the faces disappeared. This variable word gap delay was designed to reduce predictability of distracter onset and thus maximize attention to the word. Participants were instructed to simply look at the words presented.
Emotional expression was irrelevant to the task with participants required only to retain person identity information in WM. The task was to state whether the single neutral face shared identity with one of the faces present at encoding. In Experiments 1 and 2, half the trials comprised angry faces and the other half happy faces. Within each face emotion condition there were equal numbers of distracter conditions neutral versus no-distracter trials in Experiment 1; negative versus positive versus neutral trials in Experiment 2.
In Experiment 1, face emotion angry, happy and distracter neutral, no-distracter conditions were pseudo-randomized with 16 trials in each condition, yielding 64 trials in total. The presentation of each face identity and word was randomized, but these factors were not fully counterbalanced with face emotion and word valence conditions as this would render the experiment too long.
Each neutral word was presented four times within each condition to yield a total of 16 repetitions per word. In Experiment 2, face emotion angry, happy and word valence negative, positive, neutral conditions were also pseudo-randomized with 16 trials in each, yielding 96 trials in total. Each word was presented 4 times within each condition to yield a total of 24 repetitions per word. In both experiments, on half of trials the probe face at retrieval matched in identity to one of the faces at encoding, and on the other half it did not match, counterbalanced across face emotion and distracter conditions.
On completion of the WM task, participants rated each of the distracter words for valence and arousal using the Self Assessment Manikin Bradley and Lang, In Experiment 1 we aimed to determine whether the presence of an intervening word had a distracting effect on WM for emotional faces relative to when no-distracter was present. These results indicate that a neutral word presented during the maintenance period had no measurable impact on WM for face identity, regardless of whether the faces in memory had angry or happy expressions, relative to when no word was present.
In Experiment 2 we aimed to determine whether WM for angry and happy faces was differentially affected by the valence of intervening words negative, positive, neutral presented during maintenance. To explore this interaction we first examined the effects of word valence for each face emotion separately. We also examined the presence or absence of the angry face benefit in each word valence condition.
Because there was no measurable effect of positive versus negative distracters on the recall of angry faces, and also no effect on the recall of happy faces, we combined data from these two word valence conditions to compare WM when the distracter was emotional versus neutral.
This lack of interaction also indicates that the two different participant groups performed at a similar level on the WM task in general. Importantly, the angry face benefit in WM that we observe in Experiment 2 when an emotional word was presented during maintenance is not evident when there is no intervening word Experiment 1. This result is particularly enlightening to the effects seen in this second experiment, as it indicates that an emotional word serves to specifically boost WM for angry faces rather than a neutral word impairing WM , relative to the no-distracter baseline condition.
WM for happy faces is less susceptible to modulation by the presence or absence of a concurrent emotional or non-emotional event. The current study reveals some interesting and perhaps unexpected effects of intervening emotional stimuli on WM for emotional faces. In contrast to previous research that showed impaired WM for neutral items when a negative versus neutral distracter is presented during maintenance Dolcos and McCarthy, , here we show that emotional versus neutral words presented during the maintenance period can boost WM performance, but only when items held in WM are negative in valence angry faces.
When items held in WM are positive happy faces , there is little evidence that the emotionality of intervening words impacts on memory performance. However, a direct comparison of our findings with those of Dolcos and McCarthy is limited because we did not include a condition with neutral WM memoranda see Caveats section at the end. We also found that WM for expressive angry or happy face identities was not significantly affected by the presentation of neutral words during the retention interval relative to when the retention interval was devoid of new stimulation, a finding that raises the possibility that emotional content in WM may afford some form of protection from distraction.
Future studies can verify this possibility by confirming that distracters impair WM for neutral faces, even when using a long maintenance interval and word distracters as in the present paradigm. Alternatively, it is possible that increased task difficulty afforded by the long retention interval served to modulate the distractibility of the words. Other work in this special issue shows that task difficulty can modulate the impact of emotional distracters Jasinska et al. There are two possible explanations for these effects.
Heightened vigilance could facilitate the ability of the emotional words to compete for selection to awareness, allowing them to elaborate the face representations already in WM and thereby improve performance in the task. If angry faces were already deemed threatening by virtue of their expression, then negative emotional words appearing during the retention interval would be less surprising, whereas positive words would present a contradiction that could have sparked greater elaborative thought and therefore better consolidation.
It is also possible that our results are due to differences in arousal levels elicited by positive and negative words. For example, the theory of arousal-biased competition ABC proposes that arousal enhances memory for items that successfully compete for selective attention Mather and Sutherland, Despite the fact that positive and negative words were rated as equally arousing when presented outside of the WM task and that the angry and happy faces used here were rated as equally arousing; see Jackson et al.
However, we can only speculate about such possibilities because the same cannot be said for happy faces followed by a negative word, and we did not measure attention to the word stimuli. It is possible that in this task which depends on WM for face identity the task-irrelevant expression information is discarded when the to-be-remembered faces are happy but retained when they are angry. Binding expression and identity may be more imperative with negative than positive expressions because the former more typically signal a need for an immediate change in action plans, whereas the latter do not.
In this view, retaining the identity of happy faces may be unaffected by word valence simply because there is no emotional information being held in WM with which the word stimuli can interact. Other work in our lab, in which we probed the emotional contents of face WM by asking participants to categorize the valence of congruent or incongruently valenced stimuli during the retention interval, suggests that this indeed might be the case unpublished data.
During a longer WM retention interval there is greater scope for both visual face representations and the strength of associated emotional information to fade, and this might explain why we do not find the angry face benefit here. When, as in Experiment 2, another emotional event occurs during the longer retention interval, the fading angry memory trace may be reactivated and thus enable improved performance.
However, it is important to note that there are other procedural differences between the current experiment and our previous work. Here, WM load was not varied and the probe face was always neutral, making the task more difficult. Our main result was a facilitatory effect of incidental information the emotional words on WM performance for face identity. This facilitatory effect conforms to a growing body of literature showing that incidental information is not necessarily distracting, but can boost performance on a range of different tasks, including WM tasks.
Several studies have now shown such effects with neutrally valenced but arousing e. They suggested that the orienting response induced by the unexpected sound can help to refocus attention in states of unfocused attention longer trials whereas it may distract from the task at hand in states of more focused attention shorter trials. Similar facilitatory effects of novel sounds were found for a visual discrimination task by Wetzel et al. Using emotional stimuli as incidental distracters, Sutherland and Mather showed that negatively arousing sounds boosted WM for perceptually salient stimuli.
Additionally, positive and negative visual scenes inserted into the WM maintenance period of a delayed discrimination task for letters have been shown to support memory performance while neutral distracter scenes impaired performance, relative to a no-distracter condition Erk et al. Taken together these findings provide an emerging picture of how incidental emotional information can support rather than hinder online processing of other information.
The novel and important finding in our study is that the facilitatory effect of incidental emotional distracters on WM for face identity was confined to the condition involving social threat in the WM memoranda. While such enhanced recruitment of emotion processing areas has been shown to impair WM for neutral items, it may conversely support the consolidation of emotionally salient information, such as threat cues, into WM. In conclusion, we find facilitatory effects of incidental information with emotional content specifically on the retention of threat-related information in WM.
Our previous work had shown that angry faces are particularly well retained in WM Jackson et al. Functional imaging work is required to directly assess the impact of these results on brain activity within hot emotion and cold executive regions. It is necessary to address particular aspects of our design that may raise questions in our readers.
Our original findings Jackson et al. We addressed this third point earlier in the paper and do not revisit it here, but it is important to expand upon the first two points. The original design has two disadvantages: We replicated the original findings in that WM was significantly better for angry than happy faces, despite the absence of emotion at retrieval and the fact that participants were now forced to actively extract face identity from emotional expression in order to successfully perform the task unpublished data.
First, we wanted to isolate any effects of distracter word valence on WM for emotional faces to the presence of facial expression information at encoding, and avoid contamination from a possible feed-forward effect of word valence on emotion-related retrieval processes.
If we were to use neutral faces at encoding and thus neutral faces at retrieval this introduces fundamental differences between emotion conditions in how faces are matched and retrieval decisions made, thus rendering impossible any direct comparison of the effects of distraction on emotional versus neutral faces. While our current design also limits the comparisons that can be made between our study and that of Dolcos and McCarthy in which neutral memoranda were used, we feel that our results provide valuable information on how the valence of intervening stimuli can impact differentially upon WM for positive versus negative stimuli.
It is also worth re-iterating here that our original, and other, studies showed that the presence of only specific facial emotional expressions alters how we remember non-emotion-related person information: WM for face identity was significantly better when the faces portrayed anger versus happiness or a neutral expression; Jackson et al.
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Writing Distracters | CENTER FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Psychol v. Published online Oct Prepublished online Jul Linden , 2 and Jane E. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Jun 20; Accepted Oct 2. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract We are often required to filter out distraction in order to focus on a primary task during which working memory WM is engaged. Introduction During social interaction we often have to assimilate multiple pieces of incoming information in any given moment. Materials and Methods Participants Students from Bangor University took part in return for tokens for use of university printers or money. Stimuli We used a set of 18 male Ekman and Friesen face images, comprising six individuals each with an angry, happy, and neutral expression.
Table 1 Negative, positive, and neutral words used as distracter items, selected from the ANEW database. Open in a separate window. Experiment 1 In Experiment 1 we aimed to determine whether the presence of an intervening word had a distracting effect on WM for emotional faces relative to when no-distracter was present. Table 2 Group mean proportion correct scores for each experiment.
Numbers in parentheses indicate the standard error. Experiment 2 In Experiment 2 we aimed to determine whether WM for angry and happy faces was differentially affected by the valence of intervening words negative, positive, neutral presented during maintenance. Discussion The current study reveals some interesting and perhaps unexpected effects of intervening emotional stimuli on WM for emotional faces.
Caveats It is necessary to address particular aspects of our design that may raise questions in our readers. Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Affective influences on the attentional dynamics supporting awareness. Emotion 7 , — Attentional bias to brief threat-related faces revealed by saccadic eye movements.
Emotion 10 , — Attentional and evaluative biases for smoking cues in nicotine dependence: Covert and overt orienting of attention to emotional faces in anxiety. Psychiatry 25 , 49— Stimuli, Instruction Manual and Affective Ratings. Valence of distracter words increases the effects of irrelevant speech on serial recall.
Do irrelevant emotional stimuli impair or improve executive control? Neural correlates of emotion-cognition interactions: Brain systems mediating cognitive interference by emotional distraction. Negative facial expression captures attention and disrupts performance. Pictures of Facial Affect. Consulting Psychologists Press Erk S.