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Brain Sci. 2015, 5(2), 201-219; doi:10.3390/brainsci5020201

Acute Stress Dysregulates the LPP ERP Response to Emotional Pictures and Impairs Sustained Attention: Time-Sensitive Effects

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Derek G.V. Mitchell
Received: 30 January 2015 / Revised: 12 May 2015 / Accepted: 14 May 2015 / Published: 20 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emotion, Cognition and Behavior)
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Abstract

Stress can increase emotional vigilance at the cost of a decrease in attention towards non-emotional stimuli. However, the time-dependent effects of acute stress on emotion processing are uncertain. We tested the effects of acute stress on subsequent emotion processing up to 40 min following an acute stressor. Our measure of emotion processing was the late positive potential (LPP) component of the visual event-related potential (ERP), and our measure of non-emotional attention was the sustained attention to response task (SART). We also measured cortisol levels before and after the socially evaluated cold pressor test (SECPT) induction. We found that the effects of stress on the LPP ERP emotion measure were time sensitive. Specifically, the LPP ERP was only altered in the late time-point (30–40 min post-stress) when cortisol was at its highest level. Here, the LPP no longer discriminated between the emotional and non-emotional picture categories, most likely because neutral pictures were perceived as emotional. Moreover, compared to the non-stress condition, the stress-condition showed impaired performance on the SART. Our results support the idea that a limit in attention resources after an emotional stressor is associated with the brain incorrectly processing non-emotional stimuli as emotional and interferes with sustained attention. View Full-Text
Keywords: acute stress; emotion; ERP; late positive potential; sustained attention acute stress; emotion; ERP; late positive potential; sustained attention
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Alomari, R.A.; Fernandez, M.; Banks, J.B.; Acosta, J.; Tartar, J.L. Acute Stress Dysregulates the LPP ERP Response to Emotional Pictures and Impairs Sustained Attention: Time-Sensitive Effects. Brain Sci. 2015, 5, 201-219.

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