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A series of recent studies have shown that selective attention can influence the emotional value of both selected as well as ignored items. Specifically, ignored items (distractors) were consistently rated less positively in emotional evaluations, following attentional selection, relative to (typically) simultaneously presented items (targets). Furthermore, a known electrophysiological index of attentional selectivity (N2pc) was shown to correlate with the magnitude of the observed 'distractor devaluation' (DD). A neural model is presented here to account for these findings by means of a plausible mechanism linking attentional processes to emotional evaluations. This mechanism relies on the transformation of attentional inhibition of the distractor into a reduction of the value of that distractor. The model is successful in reproducing the existent behavioural results as well as the observed link between the magnitude of the attentional N2pc and the magnitude of DD. Moreover, the model proposes a series of testable hypotheses as well as specific predictions that call for further experimental investigation.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2354 - 2366


Attention, Computer Simulation, Emotions, Humans, Inhibition (Psychology), Models, Psychological, Neural Networks (Computer), Neurons, Neuropsychological Tests