Early detection and late cognitive control of emotional distraction by the prefrontal cortex

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Publication Details

Author list: García-Pacios J
Publisher: Nature Research (part of Springer Nature): Fully open access journals / Nature Publishing Group
Publication year: 2015
Journal: Scientific Reports (2045-2322)
Volume number: 5
Issue number: 10046
Number of pages: 11
ISSN: 2045-2322
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Unpleasant emotional distraction can impair the retention of
non-emotional information in working memory (WM). Research links the
prefrontal cortex with the successful control of such biologically
relevant distractors, although the temporal changes in this brain
mechanism remain unexplored. We use magnetoencephalography to
investigate the temporal dynamics of the cognitive control of both
unpleasant and pleasant distraction, in the millisecond (ms) scale.
Behavioral results demonstrate that pleasant events do not affect WM
maintenance more than neutral ones. Neuroimaging results show that
prefrontal cortices are recruited for the rapid detection of emotional
distraction, at early latencies of the processing (70-130 ms). Later in
the processing (360-450 ms), the dorsolateral, the medial and the
orbital sections of the prefrontal cortex mediate the effective control
of emotional distraction. In accordance with the behavioral performance,
pleasant distractors do not require higher prefrontal activity than
neutral ones. These findings extend our knowledge about the brain
mechanisms of coping with emotional distraction in WM. In particular,
they show for the first time that overriding the attentional capture
triggered by emotional distractors, while maintaining task-relevant
elements in mind, is based on the early detection of such
linked-to-survival information and on its later cognitive control by the
prefrontal cortex.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45