Interaction of Attention and Emotion Across Development and Disorder
Ruiz, Ericka del Rocio
Vaidya, Chandan J
This dissertation examines how attention and emotion interact in early visual processing across typical development and in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To investigate early visual processing, we utilized the attentional blink (AB) paradigm. The AB is the loss of awareness of a target immediately following detection of a first target. However, the AB does not occur if the second target contains emotional information. This modulation of the AB indicates that emotional information has privileged access to early visual attention. Chapter 2 reports that independent of the emotional expression, children showed a larger AB than adults for human faces, suggesting reduced attentional resources in early visual processing. There was, however, no developmental difference in the extent to which the AB was reduced for angry faces, indicating that early visual attention to emotionally salient information is mature in children. Further, typically developing children who were more anxious, displayed a reduced AB for faces with neutral expression, indicating heightened early visual attention to socially important information. Chapter 3 reports that children with ADHD were similar to controls in the magnitude of the AB for neutral faces and its reduction for angry faces. Thus, early visual attention to human faces and its modulation by emotional expression is intact in ADHD. Further, ADHD children with more inattention symptoms showed a larger modulation of the AB by emotional information. These results have implications for models of how attention and emotion interact in early visual attentional processing in typical development and ADHD.
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