The Emotional Content of Faces Interferes with Inhibitory Processing: An Event Related Potential Study

  •  Julieta Ramos-Loyo    
  •  Andrés González-Garrido    
  •  Gregorio García-Aguilar    
  •  Yolanda Río-Portilla    


Emotional stimuli interfere with other kinds of stimuli processing because they capture attentional resources in
accordance with their adaptive importance. This suggests that it would be more difficult to inhibit emotional
faces than neutral ones or objects. The present study evaluates the effects of facial emotional expressions on
inhibitory processing using event-related brain potentials in a Go/NoGo paradigm. Event-related potentials were
obtained in healthy subjects during emotional inhibition tasks involving anger and happiness, compared to
non-emotional tasks based on simple objects and gender. Emotional tasks exhibited poorer performance than
non-emotional ones. P3 latencies were longer during response inhibition to emotional faces than those obtained
while inhibiting non-emotional stimuli. This study provides evidence that facial emotional content interferes
with response inhibition since it may elicit additional neural resource demands.

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