Dissociable early attentional control mechanisms underlying cognitive and affective conflicts
It has been well documented that cognitive conflict is sensitive to the relative proportion of congruent and incongruent trials. However, few studies have examined whether affective conflict processing is modulated as a function of proportion congruency (PC). To address this question we recorded event-related potentials (ERP) while subjects performed both cognitive and affective face-word Stroop tasks. By varying the proportion of congruent and incongruent trials in each block, we examined the extent to which PC impacts both cognitive and affective conflict control at different temporal stages. Results showed that in the cognitive task an anteriorly localized early N2 component occurred predominantly in the low proportion congruency context, whereas in the affective task it was found to occur in the high proportion congruency one. The N2 effects across the two tasks were localized to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, where responses were increased in the cognitive task but decreased in the affective one. Furthermore, high proportions of congruent items produced both larger amplitude of a posteriorly localized sustained potential component and a larger behavioral Stroop effect in cognitive and affective tasks. Our findings suggest that cognitive and affective conflicts engage early dissociable attentional control mechanisms and a later common conflict response system.
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