30 September 2020: The Emotional Attentional Blink

David Zald
Center for Advanced Human Brain Imaging Research
Rutgers University

The emotional attentional blink (EAB) refers to a transient impairment in the ability to detect or discriminate a target when it is presented closely in time to an emotional distractor. The paradigm, which is also referred to in the literature as emotion induced blindness, has provided insight into the nature of bottom-up capture of attention by emotionally salient stimuli in both health and in psychopathology. Although the most dramatic aspect of the phenomena occurs when the target is not perceived at all, recent data indicate that the effects of the emotional distractor are more consistent with a graded impact on target processing than a purely “all or none” phenomena, with emotional distractors often slowing target detection and lowering the subjective vividness of target representations, rather than eliminating all subjective awareness of the target. Such data have implications for computational models of the competition of bottom-up and top-down attentional mechanisms.