Emotional sounds guide visual attention to emotional pictures: An eye-tracking study with audio-visual stimuli

Gerdes, Antje B. M. ; Alpers, Georg W. ; Braun, Hanna ; Köhler, Sabrina ; Nowak, Ulrike ; Treiber, Lisa

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000729
URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32191086
Additional URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340042476...
Document Type: Article
Year of publication Online: 2020
The title of a journal, publication series: Emotion
Volume: tba
Page range: tba
Place of publication: Washington, DC
Publishing house: American Psychological Assoc.
ISSN: 1528-3542 , 1931-1516
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Klinische u. Biologische Psychologie u. Psychotherapie (Alpers 2010-)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Abstract: For the realm of visual cues, it has been well documented that attention is preferentially oriented toward emotionally relevant cues. Preliminary evidence suggests that emotional cues from other sensory modalities may also steer visual attention toward emotional pictures. However, more research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms that are involved. Therefore, a novel design was used to investigate whether emotional sounds promote attentional orientation toward emotional pictures. To this end, 48 participants viewed pairs of pictures with either neutral or unpleasant content in a free-viewing paradigm. In addition, neutral or unpleasant sounds were presented either on the left-hand or on the right-hand side of the monitor. Eye movements were recorded as an index of visual spatial attention toward the pictures. Most interestingly, position and valence of the sounds independently modulated visual orienting towards unpleasant pictures. For initial capture and sustained attention, orienting towards unpleasant pictures was significantly enhanced when any sound was heard on the same side as the unpleasant picture. In addition, unpleasant sounds (irrespective of the side) boosted leftward bias of initial attention toward emotionally congruent pictures. Taken together, this study clearly shows that emotional auditory cues guide visual spatial allocation of attention specifically to emotionally congruent pictures.

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