Emotional processing modulates attentional capture of irrelevant sound input in adolescents

B. Gulotta, G. Sadia, E. Sussman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The main goal of this study was to investigate how emotional processing modulates the allocation of attention to irrelevant background sound events in adolescence. We examined the effect of viewing positively and negatively valenced video clips on components of event-related brain potentials (ERPs), while irrelevant sounds were presented to the ears. All sounds evoked the P1, N1, P2, and N2 components. The infrequent, randomly occurring novel environmental sounds evoked the P3a component in all trial types. The main finding was that the P3a component was larger in amplitude when evoked by salient, distracting background sound events when participants were watching negatively charged video clips, compared to when viewing of the positive or neutral video clips. The results suggest that the threshold for involuntary attention to the novel sounds was lowered during viewing of the negative movie contexts. This indicates a survival mechanism, which would be needed for more automatic processing of irrelevant sounds to monitor the unattended environment in situations perceived as more threatening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Attention
  • Auditory
  • Emotions
  • Event-related potentials
  • P3a

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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