The influence of self-focused attention on emotional picture processing: An ERP study

Jacob D. Kraft, Kaitlyn M. Nagel, Danielle E. Deros, Burkhart J. Hahn, Danielle L. Taylor, Kristen E. Frosio, Evan J. White, De Mond M. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has documented neurophysiological indicators of anticipation (Stimulus Preceding Negativity [SPN]) and perception (Late Positive Potential [LPP]) of threat, yet little is known as to how self-focused attention manipulations influence emotion processing within the context of cued picture viewing. With self-referent attention moderating attention to external stimuli, it is necessary to document how self-focused attention impacts attention and the ability to emotionally process external threat. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the impact of self-focused attention on the anticipation and perceptual processing of unpleasant pictures within a cued-picture viewing paradigm among 33 participants. Overall, the results suggest that the self-focused attention manipulations disrupted anticipation but not processing of pictures, as indexed by the SPN and LPP respectively. Self-focused attention appears to disrupt the preparatory attention for upcoming unpleasant stimuli, potentially through loading cognitive resources or activation of associative defensive responding. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the impact of self-focused attention within the context of emotional picture processing and suggest further areas of investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-170
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Emotional processing
  • Late positive potential
  • Self-focused attention
  • Stimulus preceding negativity


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