Event-related brain potential (ERP) studies consistently revealed that a relatively early (early posterior negativity; EPN) and a late (late positive potential; LPP) ERP component differentiate between emotional and neutral picture stimuli. Two studies examined the processing of emotional stimuli when preceded either by pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant context images. In both studies, distinct streams of six pictures were shown. In Study 1, hedonic context was alternated randomly across the 180 picture streams. In Study 2, hedonic context sequences were blocked, resulting in 60 preceding sequences of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant context valence, respectively. The main finding was that the valence of the preceding picture sequence had no significant effect on the emotional modulation of the EPN and LPP components. However, previous results were replicated in that emotional stimulus processing was associated with larger EPN and LPP components as compared to neutral pictures. These findings suggest that the prioritized processing of emotional stimuli is primarily driven by the valence of the current picture.
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