The selective processing of briefly presented affective pictures: an ERP analysis

Psychophysiology. 2004 May;41(3):441-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2004.00174.x.


Recent event-related potential (ERP) studies revealed the selective processing of affective pictures. The present study explored whether the same phenomenon can be observed when pictures are presented only briefly. Toward this end, pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant pictures from the International Affective Pictures Series were presented for 120 ms while event related potentials were measured by dense sensor arrays. As observed for longer picture presentations, brief affective pictures were selectively processed. Specifically, pleasant and unpleasant pictures were associated with an early endogenous negative shift over temporo-occipital sensors compared to neutral images. In addition, affective pictures elicited enlarged late positive potentials over centro-parietal sensor sites relative to neutral images. These data suggest that a quick glimpse of emotionally relevant stimuli appears sufficient to tune the brain for selective perceptual processing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography / psychology*
  • Erotica
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception / physiology