Affective picture processing: the late positive potential is modulated by motivational relevance

Psychophysiology. 2000 Mar;37(2):257-61.


Recent studies have shown that the late positive component of the event-related-potential (ERP) is enhanced for emotional pictures, presented in an oddball paradigm, evaluated as distant from an established affective context. In other research, with context-free, random presentation, affectively intense pictures (pleasant and unpleasant) prompted similar enhanced ERP late positivity (compared with the neutral picture response). In an effort to reconcile interpretations of the late positive potential (LPP), ERPs to randomly ordered pictures were assessed, but using the faster presentation rate, brief exposure (1.5 s), and distinct sequences of six pictures, as in studies using an oddball based on evaluative distance. Again, results showed larger LPPs to pleasant and unpleasant pictures, compared with neutral pictures. Furthermore, affective pictures of high arousal elicited larger LPPs than less affectively intense pictures. The data support the view that late positivity to affective pictures is modulated both by their intrinsic motivational significance and the evaluative context of picture presentation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation