The relationship between emotional arousal and cognition
The interaction between emotion and cognition is pivotal for everyday functioning. Emotional scenes, such as a crime scene in a movie, would grab more attention than a neutral scene, such as a car passing by. Besides, we mostly remember personal events that have an emotional significance, such as the first day of the college. On the other hand, some other emotional events, for instance traumatic experiences, can sometimes be recalled frequently and involuntarily or completely suppressed. This
... esis explores these opposing effects of emotional arousal. The first and second studies utilise a memory-guided attention paradigm to investigate emotional enhancement and impairment effects on attention to the scene pictures known by prior knowledge. The results showed that attention to a target location in the scenes previously known was boosted by emotional arousal induced by an anticipation of a fearful shock into the participant's finger. On the other hand, attention to a target location that was not known beforehand was not affected by the fear of shock. The third and the last study investigated how emotional arousal induced by negative sound clips would affect ambiguous motion perception. Here participants were able to choose a dominant (i.e., leftward or rightward) direction when they felt emotionally aroused by listening a negative sound clip. These studies underline the complex relationship of emotional arousal and cognition. Emotional arousal helps to boost attention, memory, and perception to something important for the individual whether it comes from past memories or it dominates by perception. Critical evaluations have been included in the experimental chapters while the general discussion draws a broader conclusion in the interaction between emotion and cognition and discusses some implications.