Both low and high spatial frequencies drive the early posterior negativity in response to snake stimuli

Nick Beligiannis*, Merel Hermus, Liselotte Gootjes, Jan W. Van Strien

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Previous event-related potential (ERP) studies have shown that snake pictures elicit greater early posterior negativity (EPN) compared to other animal pictures. The EPN reflects early selective visual processing of emotionally significant stimuli. Evidence for the role that high and low spatial frequencies play in the early detection of snakes is still inconsistent. The current study aims to clarify this by studying the effect of high and low spatial frequencies on the elevated EPN for snakes separately. Using a rapid serial visual presentation paradigm, participants viewed images of snakes, spiders and birds in three different conditions of filtered spatial frequencies: high spatial frequency, low spatial frequency, and full spatial frequency (the original image). P1 and mean EPN activity in a time window of 225–300 ms after stimulus onset were measured at the occipital cluster (O1, O2, Oz). The results show smaller P1 amplitudes and shorter P1 latencies in response to full-spectrum snake pictures compared to full-spectrum spider and bird pictures, and an increased EPN in response to snake pictures compared to spider and bird pictures in all three filtering conditions. The EPN in response to full-spectrum snake pictures was larger than the EPN in response to filtered snake images. No difference in EPN was found between the snake pictures in the high and low spatial frequency conditions. The results suggest that the roles of high and low spatial frequencies in early automatic attention to snakes are equally important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108403
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume177
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022

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