Neural correlates of emotion-attention interactions: From perception, learning, and memory to social cognition, individual differences, and training interventions

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Jan;108:559-601. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.08.017. Epub 2019 Aug 22.


Due to their ability to capture attention, emotional stimuli tend to benefit from enhanced perceptual processing, which can be helpful when such stimuli are task-relevant but hindering when they are task-irrelevant. Altered emotion-attention interactions have been associated with symptoms of affective disturbances, and emerging research focuses on improving emotion-attention interactions to prevent or treat affective disorders. In line with the Human Affectome Project's emphasis on linguistic components, we also analyzed the language used to describe attention-related aspects of emotion, and highlighted terms related to domains such as conscious awareness, motivational effects of attention, social attention, and emotion regulation. These terms were discussed within a broader review of available evidence regarding the neural correlates of (1) Emotion-Attention Interactions in Perception, (2) Emotion-Attention Interactions in Learning and Memory, (3) Individual Differences in Emotion-Attention Interactions, and (4) Training and Interventions to Optimize Emotion-Attention Interactions. This comprehensive approach enabled an integrative overview of the current knowledge regarding the mechanisms of emotion-attention interactions at multiple levels of analysis, and identification of emerging directions for future investigations.

Keywords: Affective neuroscience; Attention; Emotion; Health and well-being; Individual differences; Learning and memory; Linguistics; Neuroimaging; Perception; Psychophysiology; Training interventions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology*
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mood Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Mood Disorders / therapy
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Social Cognition*