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HUL 211 Emotions in object perception and memory


Object Perception and Memory Lecture Series

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in object perception and memory

          Snehlata Jaswal

The English word 'emotion' is derived from the Latin root emovere,
where e- (variant of ex-) means 'out' and movere means 'move'. The
related term "motivation" is also derived from the word movere.

Various psychologists have given importance to emotions as they are
closely linked to motivation. Others have characterized emotions as
‘intelligence of highest order’.

The term emotions denotes three things in psychology:
   Physiological arousal
   Expressive behaviours
   Conscious experience
- All are ‘reactions’ to perceptions
                                         HUL 211 OBJECT PERCEPTION AND MEMORY
                    James Lange theory
The James-Lange theory is one of the earliest theories of emotions,
   developed independently by two scholars, William James and Carl
   Lange. The theory proposed that in response to percepts, there are
   immediate visceral (physiological) changes in the body. These
   changes are then experienced consciously as emotions. Emotions are
   feelings which result from these physiological changes. E.g., We see a
   bear, we run, therefore we feel afraid.
1. The viscera are largely unresponsive and react relatively slowly (i.e. -
   we 'feel' the emotion before the physiological changes have
2. Visceral responses are the same no matter what the reported
3. Injecting adrenaline/ epinephrine (as released from the adrenal
   glands during "normal" emotional state) does not induce the feeling
   of separate emotions, except for inducing a heightened state of
4. Cutting nerves from the viscera to the brain had no effect on
   emotions in cats.
                Cannon Bard theory
The Cannon-Bard theory, also known as the thalamic theory of
emotions, was developed by physiologists Walter Cannon and Philip
Bard. They suggested that information about external events
(percepts) first goes to the hypothalamus which acts as a relay centre
sending further signals to the higher centres in the brain (the cortex)
as well as to the viscera. This meant that individuals experience
emotions and react physiologically simultaneously. In fact since the
cortex is nearer than the viscera, the conscious experience of
emotion occurs a split second earlier than the physiological arousal.

This theory challenged the James Lange theory which suggested that
bodily changes were the cause of emotions.

The major criticism of this theory was that it proposed that bodily
arousal and cognitive experience of emotions were separate, and
had little to do with each other.
        Two factor theory of emotions
The two-factor theory of emotion, or Schacter-Singer
theory, suggested that emotions have two components
which interact together: physiological arousal and
cognition (a conscious understanding of that arousal).
According to the theory, "cognitions are used to interpret
the meaning of physiological reactions to outside events.“

                                    HUL 211 OBJECT PERCEPTION AND MEMORY
            Schacter and Singer (1962)
Schacter and Singer (1962) injected either adrenaline or a
saline solution (placebo) to 184 college students . All
experimental participants were told that they were given an
injection of a new drug called Superoxin to test their eyesight.
The adrenaline injection caused a number of effects including
increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and increased blood
flow to the muscles and brain. The saline injection had no
such effects. Subjects' emotional states were inferred from
both observations of the subjects and the S's responses on a
self-rating of emotion scale. Subjects who had received the
adrenaline injection were more emotional by both measures,
showing that the first factor in emotion was indeed ‘intensity
of arousal’.
      Schacter and Singer (1962) …contd.
Then, participants who received the adrenaline were divided into
three groups – one group was told about the expected effects of
the adrenaline; a second group was told that it would produce a
dull headache and numbness, and a third group was told nothing
at all. After the injections, the subjects waited in a room with
another person who was actually a confederate of the
experimenter. The confederate behaved one of two ways: playful
(euphoric) or angry. Participants who were misled or naive about
the injection's effects behaved like the confederate, while those
who were informed of the expected effects of the adrenaline
showed no emotional pattern. This suggests that informed
participants correctly attributed their arousal, while the naive or
misinformed groups interpreted the arousal according to the
emotion experienced by the confederate. Thus "cognitive
attribution," is the second factor in the Two-factor theory.
                 Dutton and Aron (1974)
Dutton and Aron (1974) used a natural setting to test the Two Factor
Theory of Emotions. In their study, an attractive female experimenter
asked male passers-by to complete a brief survey. She intercepted
potential participants either at the end of a bridge (lesser arousal) or on
the bridge itself (more arousal). The footbridge used was a narrow
bridge that spans a deep ravine. Following the survey interview, the
experimenter gave the participants her telephone number in case they
had further questions. The dependent variable in this experiment was
the number and kind of telephone calls received from the participants
after the experiment.

Men who were met in the middle of the bridge were more aroused, but
also presumably more likely to interpret their feelings as being
'lovestruck'. Consequently they called back the interviewer more often,
looking for a date, than those who were met at the end of the bridge.
       Facial feedback hypothesis
The facial feedback hypothesis states that facial movement can
influence the kind of emotion experienced. (Comeback for
James Lange theory in an attenuated form?)

– An individual who is forced to smile during a social event
   will actually come to find the event more of an enjoyable
– Laughing clubs
– Suppress an emotional expression, and the emotion
– Actors often develop the ‘mood’ they portray

      Supportive studies with botox
In a study of cognitive processing of emotional content, Havas,
Glenberg, Gutowski, Lucarelli, & Davidson (2010) asked participants
to read emotional (angry, sad, happy) sentences before and two
weeks after botox injections in the muscles used in frowning.

Reading times for angry and sad sentences were longer after botox
injections than before injection, while reading times for happy
sentences were unchanged. This finding shows that facial muscle
paralysis has a selective effect on processing of emotional content.

Intriguingly, it also demonstrates that cosmetic use of botox might
affect some aspects of human cognition

                 Affective predictions
All previous theories assume that emotions occur after object
perception and in reaction to it. First, a red, round, hard object is
perceived as an apple, and only then is the object related to the past
experiences of enjoying the crunchy sweetness of the first bite, or to a
breezy trip to the apple farm for picking apples with friends.

Barett and Bar (2009), however, contend that prior affective reactions to
apples might actually help the brain to predict that visual sensations
refer to an apple in the first place.

Predictions generated during object perception carry affective value as a
necessary and normal part of visual experience.

This proposal is on the basis of studies of the OFC (Orbito frontal cortex).
                 Orbito-frontal cortex
The OFC is a heteromodal association area that integrates sensory input
from the world and the body (i.e. from extra- and intrapersonal space)
to create a contextually sensitive, multimodal representation of the
world and its value to the person at a particular moment in time. It plays
a role in representing reward and threat, as well as emotional
experience, and it also plays a role in processing olfactory, auditory and
visual information.

The OFC’s ongoing integration of sensory information from the external
world with that from the body indicates that conscious percepts are
indeed intrinsically infused with affective value, so that the affective
salience or significance of an object is not computed after the fact.

The OFC plays a crucial role in forming the predictions that support
object perception.
Pavlova, Sokolov, & Sokolov (2005)
Which is happier - 1 or 2?
Pavlova, Sokolov, & Sokolov (2005)
 Which is suffering more - 1 or 2?

Even the perception of such simple shapes is linked to
affective quality, and irregularities are linked to negative
 Effect of mood on lexical decision

Niedenthal & Setterlund (1994) did two experiments, in
which subjects were induced to feel happy or sad and
then performed a lexical decision task (they had to
recognize words from a mixed list of words and non
words). In both experiments, emotions facilitated lexical
decision about words specifically related to subjects'
emotional states

                       HUL 211 OBJECT PERCEPTION AND MEMORY
    Desired objects are seen as closer
Balcetis and Dunning (2010) did five experiments which
demonstrated that perceivers tend to see desirable objects (i.e.,
those that can fulfill immediate goals—a water bottle to assuage
their thirst, money they can win, a personality test providing
favorable feedback) as physically closer to them than less
desirable objects.

Biased distance perception was revealed through verbal reports
and through actions toward the object (e.g., under-throwing a
beanbag at a desirable object).

Seeing desirable objects as closer than less desirable objects
serves the self-regulatory function of energizing the perceiver to
approach objects that fulfill needs and goals.
                 Effect on field of vision
Schmitz et al. (2009) hypothesized that positive emotional states would broaden the
field of view, whereas negative states would have the opposite effect. 14 participants
were tested in with fMRI whilst they looked at various images. The participants were
shown photographs of faces expressing positive, negative or neutral emotions. Each
was presented for 2 seconds, and followed by a composite image consisting of a face
at the centre surrounded by photographs of houses or places. The first image of each
pair served to induce a specific mood; participants were asked to report the emotion
induced by each face, and also to judge the sex of the faces in the composite images,
so that they focused their attention at the centre rather than the periphery.

Previous studies show that the fusiform face area (FFA) processes faces and the
parahippocampal place area processes novel places. In this study the positive mood
induced by the photographs of faces was positively correlated with increased
processing of the novel places depicted in the composite images, as revealed by
increased activity in the left PPA. By contrast, negative moods had the opposite effect
– they were associated with reduced PPA activity. Schmitz and his colleagues also
compared FFA activity in the positive and negative mood induction trials, but found
no difference. The enhanced peripheral vision following positive mood induction
does not, therefore, occur as a result of a trade-off with central vision.
  Effect of music on face perception
Logeswaran and Bhattacharya (2009) used 30 participants who were presented a
series of happy or sad musical excerpts, each lasting 15 seconds. After each piece of
music, the participants were shown a photograph of a face, expressing either a
happy, sad, or neutral expression for 1 second each. Then the participants were
asked to rate the emotion on a 7-point scale, where 1 denoted extremely sad and 7
extremely happy. Thus, the photos of faces were "primed" by an emotional state
conveyed by a piece of music. All the participants correctly identified the emotions
expressed by the faces. However, happy faces primed by a happy piece of music
were rated as happier than when primed by sad music. Conversely, sad faces
primed by a piece of sad music were rated as sadder than those primed with a
happy piece of music. Finally, neutral faces were rated higher when primed by a
happy piece of music and lower when primed by a sad piece.
The size of the priming effect for neutral faces was found to be almost twice that of
the effect for happy and sad faces, probably because neutral faces contain less
information than those expressing one emotion or the other, and hence are
somewhat ambiguous. In the absence of relevent visual information, it may
therefore become more reliant on information from other senses when generating
these representations. A second experiment with EEGs confirmed these results.
                 Mere ownership effect
Beggan (1992) investigated whether subjects would evaluate an object more
favorably merely because they owned it.

Study 1 confirmed the existence of this mere ownership effect. Subjects
initially rated some objects in desirability. An object rated average ( a cold drink
insulator) was chosen as the key object of the study. It was gifted to one group
of subjects. A second group received no gift, and a third group received
another object (a key holder). All groups then rated the attractiveness of
various objects including the insulator. It was found that only the group who
had received it as a gift increased the ratings given to the insulator. Study 2
showed that the effect was not due to subjects having greater exposure to an
owned object relative to an unowned object.

Study 3 showed that the ‘mere ownership effect’ was enhanced after the
subjects felt that they had performed poorly, than when they were given
positive feedback on their performance on an unrelated perceptual judgement
task. This suggests that the effect may be one aspect of a general desire of
people to make self-enhancing judgments.
         Thank you


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