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Early emotional processing deficits in depersonalization: An exploration with event-related potentials in an undergraduate sample

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Emotional stimuli may draw attention to such an extent that they hamper the processing of subsequent signals, a phenomenon termed emotion-induced blindness (EIB). As depersonalization is associated with self-reported attenuated emotional responses, the present study explored whether individuals scoring high on the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale (CDS; n=15) exhibit a diminished EIB effect relative to low CDS scoring individuals (n=15), and whether attentional processes reflected in event-related potentials (ERPs) are implicated in this effect. We obtained an EIB effect such that emotional distractors that preceded targets with a lag of 200 ms reduced correct detection of targets. Although the magnitude of this effect was similar for high and low CDS participants, high CDS participants exhibited a significantly lower ERP amplitude at the frontal lead in the 200-300 ms window than did low CDS individuals to targets that followed emotional versus neutral distractors. This latter effect was significantly related to the Alienation factor of the CDS. This pattern suggests that difficulties in the discrimination between emotional and neutral stimuli relate to the feeling of unreality in depersonalization. 

    Research areas

  • Emotion-induced blindness (EIB), Depersonalization symptoms, Rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) paradigm, International Affective Picture System (IAPS), COGNITIVE-PROCESSES, AUTONOMIC RESPONSE, ERP ANALYSIS, DISORDER, ATTENTION, DISSOCIATION, EXPERIENCES, PREVALENCE, VALIDATION, PICTURES
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-229
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2013