No arousal-biased competition in focused visuospatial attention

Árni Gunnar Ásgeirsson, Sander Nieuwenhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Arousal sometimes enhances and sometimes impairs perception and memory. A recent theory attempts to reconcile these findings by proposing that arousal amplifies the competition between stimulus repre- sentations, strengthening already strong representations and weakening already weak representations. Here, we report a stringent test of this arousal-biased competition theory in the context of focused visu- ospatial attention. Participants were required to identify a briefly presented target in the context of mul- tiple distractors, which varied in the degree to which they competed for representation with the target, as revealed by psychophysics. We manipulated arousal using emotionally arousing pictures (Experiment 1), alerting tones (Experiment 2) and white-noise stimulation (Experiment 3), and validated these manipulations with electroencephalography and pupillometry. In none of the experiments did we find evidence that arousal modulated the effect of distractor competition on the accuracy of target identification. Bayesian statistics revealed moderate to strong evidence against arousal-biased competition. Modeling of the psychophysical data based on Bundesen’s (1990) theory of visual attention corroborated the conclusion that arousal does not bias competition in focused visuospatial attention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognition
Volume168
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages15
ISSN0010-0277
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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Arousal
experiment
Bayesian statistics
competition theory
psychophysics
effect of competition
evidence
manipulation
stimulus
Psychophysics
trend
Electroencephalography
Experiment

Cite this

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title = "No arousal-biased competition in focused visuospatial attention",
abstract = "Arousal sometimes enhances and sometimes impairs perception and memory. A recent theory attempts to reconcile these findings by proposing that arousal amplifies the competition between stimulus repre- sentations, strengthening already strong representations and weakening already weak representations. Here, we report a stringent test of this arousal-biased competition theory in the context of focused visu- ospatial attention. Participants were required to identify a briefly presented target in the context of mul- tiple distractors, which varied in the degree to which they competed for representation with the target, as revealed by psychophysics. We manipulated arousal using emotionally arousing pictures (Experiment 1), alerting tones (Experiment 2) and white-noise stimulation (Experiment 3), and validated these manipulations with electroencephalography and pupillometry. In none of the experiments did we find evidence that arousal modulated the effect of distractor competition on the accuracy of target identification. Bayesian statistics revealed moderate to strong evidence against arousal-biased competition. Modeling of the psychophysical data based on Bundesen’s (1990) theory of visual attention corroborated the conclusion that arousal does not bias competition in focused visuospatial attention.",
author = "{\'A}sgeirsson, {{\'A}rni Gunnar} and Sander Nieuwenhuis",
year = "2017",
language = "English",
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No arousal-biased competition in focused visuospatial attention. / Ásgeirsson, Árni Gunnar; Nieuwenhuis, Sander.

In: Cognition, Vol. 168, 2017, p. 191-204.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - No arousal-biased competition in focused visuospatial attention

AU - Ásgeirsson, Árni Gunnar

AU - Nieuwenhuis, Sander

PY - 2017

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N2 - Arousal sometimes enhances and sometimes impairs perception and memory. A recent theory attempts to reconcile these findings by proposing that arousal amplifies the competition between stimulus repre- sentations, strengthening already strong representations and weakening already weak representations. Here, we report a stringent test of this arousal-biased competition theory in the context of focused visu- ospatial attention. Participants were required to identify a briefly presented target in the context of mul- tiple distractors, which varied in the degree to which they competed for representation with the target, as revealed by psychophysics. We manipulated arousal using emotionally arousing pictures (Experiment 1), alerting tones (Experiment 2) and white-noise stimulation (Experiment 3), and validated these manipulations with electroencephalography and pupillometry. In none of the experiments did we find evidence that arousal modulated the effect of distractor competition on the accuracy of target identification. Bayesian statistics revealed moderate to strong evidence against arousal-biased competition. Modeling of the psychophysical data based on Bundesen’s (1990) theory of visual attention corroborated the conclusion that arousal does not bias competition in focused visuospatial attention.

AB - Arousal sometimes enhances and sometimes impairs perception and memory. A recent theory attempts to reconcile these findings by proposing that arousal amplifies the competition between stimulus repre- sentations, strengthening already strong representations and weakening already weak representations. Here, we report a stringent test of this arousal-biased competition theory in the context of focused visu- ospatial attention. Participants were required to identify a briefly presented target in the context of mul- tiple distractors, which varied in the degree to which they competed for representation with the target, as revealed by psychophysics. We manipulated arousal using emotionally arousing pictures (Experiment 1), alerting tones (Experiment 2) and white-noise stimulation (Experiment 3), and validated these manipulations with electroencephalography and pupillometry. In none of the experiments did we find evidence that arousal modulated the effect of distractor competition on the accuracy of target identification. Bayesian statistics revealed moderate to strong evidence against arousal-biased competition. Modeling of the psychophysical data based on Bundesen’s (1990) theory of visual attention corroborated the conclusion that arousal does not bias competition in focused visuospatial attention.

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