The impact of visual working memory capacity on the filtering efficiency of emotional face distractors
Ye, C., Xu, Q., Liu, Q., Cong, F., Saariluoma, P., Ristaniemi, T., & Astikainen, P. (2018). The impact of visual working memory capacity on the filtering efficiency of emotional face distractors. Biological Psychology, 138, 63-72. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.08.009
Published inBiological Psychology
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Emotional faces can serve as distractors for visual working memory (VWM) tasks. An event-related potential called contralateral delay activity (CDA) can measure the filtering efficiency of face distractors. Previous studies have investigated the influence of VWM capacity on filtering efficiency of simple neutral distractors but not of face distractors. We measured the CDA indicative of emotional face filtering during a VWM task related to facial identity. VWM capacity was measured in a separate colour change detection task, and participants were divided to high- and low-capacity groups. The high-capacity group was able to filter out distractors similarly irrespective of its facial emotion. In contrast, the low-capacity group failed in filtering the neutral and angry face distractors, while the filtering was efficient for the happy face distractors. The results indicate that potentially threatening faces are particularly difficult to filter if VWM capacity is limited.