Emotionally negative stimuli are resistant to repetition priming
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The study was aimed at testing whether the repetition priming was influenced by affective valence of visual stimuli. Neutral and emotionally negative words and images were shown in the right or in the left visual field. Each of the stimuli was repeated twice, with 2 to 4 other stimuli presented between repetitions. The subjects' task was detection of a stimulus. Responses were given by index finger of the left or right hand. The task was the same for all stimuli, the new and the repeated ones. Reaction times were measured and analyzed. The effects of repetition priming were significant only for neutral stimuli: repeated items were detected faster than the new ones. For emotionally negative items, generally no priming was observed. Interestingly, new emotionally negative stimuli were detected significantly faster in comparison to neutral stimuli. The results are discussed in relation to attentional processes involved in processing of affective stimuli.
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Artur Marchewka, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Department of Neurophysiology, 3 Pasteur, 02-093 Warsaw, Poland