Emotional influences on perception and working memory.
Few studies have investigated how attentional control is affected by transient affective states while taking individual differences in affective traits into consideration. In this study, participants completed a color-word Stroop task immediately after undergoing a positive, neutral or negative affective context manipulation (ACM). Behavioral performance was unaffected by any ACM considered in isolation. For individuals high in trait negative affect (NA), performance was impaired by the negative but not the positive or neutral ACM. Neuroimaging results indicate that activity in primarily top-down control regions of the brain (inferior frontal gyrus and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) was suppressed in the presence of emotional arousal (both negative and positive ACMs). This effect appears to have been exacerbated or offset by co-occurring activity in other top-down control regions (parietal) and emotion processing regions (orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala and nucleus accumbens) as a function of the valence of state affect (positive or negative) and trait affect (trait NA or trait PA). Neuroimaging results are consistent with behavioral findings. In combination, they indicate both additive and interactive influences of trait and state affect on top-down control of attention.