Using facial electromyography to test competing accounts of the affective consequences of response inhibition for visual stimuli

Clancy, Elizabeth
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University of Guelph

Inhibition used to refrain from responding to undesirable or goal conflicting stimuli has affective consequences that alter the emotional evaluation of the inhibited item, resulting in relatively negative subjective ratings. Two competing explanatory accounts of this effect exist. These accounts differ by whether inhibition immediately elicits negative affect or only impacts emotion in subsequent evaluation. Here, using two facial electromyography (fEMG) methods, we investigate the feasibility of using an indirect- psychophysiological approach to define when affective correlates of inhibition occur. When facial muscle responses related to negative-affect happened was used as evidence for when inhibition likely has emotional consequences, extending previous findings which have relied primarily on subjective ratings. These negative emotion related muscle responses were found at the time of inhibition, suggesting inhibition causes immediate negative affect. An overall assessment of the fEMG approaches, and the overall effectiveness of using this psychophysiological measure for this investigation are addressed.

Inhibition, facial electromyography, zygomaticus, corrugator, emotion, attention