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The study of visual perception has largely been completed without regard to the influence that an individual's emotional status may have on their performance in visual tasks. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that mood may affect not only creative abilities and interpersonal skills but also the capacity to perform low-level cognitive tasks. Here, we sought to determine whether rudimentary visual search processes are similarly affected by emotion. Specifically, we examined whether an individual's perceived happiness level affects their ability to detect a target in noise. To do so, we employed pop-out and serial visual search paradigms, implemented using a novel smartphone application that allowed search times and self-rated levels of happiness to be recorded throughout each twenty-four-hour period for two weeks. This experience sampling protocol circumvented the need to alter mood artificially with laboratory-based induction methods. Using our smartphone application, we were able to replicate the classic visual search findings, whereby pop-out search times remained largely unaffected by the number of distractors whereas serial search times increased with increasing number of distractors. While pop-out search times were unaffected by happiness level, serial search times with the maximum numbers of distractors (n = 30) were significantly faster for high happiness levels than low happiness levels (p = 0.02). Our results demonstrate the utility of smartphone applications in assessing ecologically valid measures of human visual performance. We discuss the significance of our findings for the assessment of basic visual functions using search time measures, and for our ability to search effectively for targets in real world settings.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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Temporary visual deficit or impaired visual processing occurring in a rapid serial visual presentation task. After a person identifies the first of two visual targets, the ability to detect the second target is impaired for the next few hundred milliseconds. This phenomenon is called attentional blink.
An affective disorder manifested by either a dysphoric mood or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities. The mood disturbance is prominent and relatively persistent.
A nonspecific term referring to impaired vision. Major subcategories include stimulus deprivation-induced amblyopia and toxic amblyopia. Stimulus deprivation-induced amblyopia is a developmental disorder of the visual cortex. A discrepancy between visual information received by the visual cortex from each eye results in abnormal cortical development. STRABISMUS and REFRACTIVE ERRORS may cause this condition. Toxic amblyopia is a disorder of the OPTIC NERVE which is associated with ALCOHOLISM, tobacco SMOKING, and other toxins and as an adverse effect of the use of some medications.
Those disorders that have a disturbance in mood as their predominant feature.
An effect usually, but not necessarily, beneficial that is attributable to an expectation that the regimen will have an effect, i.e., the effect is due to the power of suggestion.