Emotion facilitates perception and potentiates the perceptual benefits of attention

Psychol Sci. 2006 Apr;17(4):292-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01701.x.


Does emotion affect how people see? We investigated the effects of emotion and attention, as well as their conjoint effect, on contrast sensitivity, a dimension of early vision. We manipulated the emotional valence and the attentional distribution of cues preceding a target stimulus and asked observers to judge the orientation of the target as contrast varied. This study provides the first behavioral evidence that (a) emotion enhances contrast sensitivity irrespective of attention and (b) emotion potentiates the effect of attention on contrast sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Attention*
  • Cues
  • Facial Expression
  • Humans
  • Visual Perception*