An investigation of the implicit control of the processing of negative pictures

Jenny Yiend, Andrew Mathews, Becky Weston, Barnaby D. Dunn, Rhodri Cusack, Bundy Mackintosh

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The implicit control of emotion processing was investigated by varying encoding instructions for both negative and neutral pictures while measuring psychophysiological responses. Participants made comparative judgments about consecutive pictures for blocks of neutral or negative content. The highly specified judgment task was designed to minimize variance in the implementation of implicit control of processing. Affective modulation of startle amplitude was significantly reduced during judgments involving nonnegative content (how "planned" an image was compared to its predecessor), compared to those that involved negative content (how "frightening" an image was compared to its predecessor), indicating successful implicit control of processing. The more attenuated affect modulation was, the less anxious individuals became during the task, suggesting that the implicit control of emotion processing is significantly associated with emotional experience. These data provide convergent evidence for a companion neuroimaging study because of the similar neural substrates thought to underlie affective modulation of startle. This supports the view that higher-level top-down pathways modulate activation of the amygdala.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-837
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

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