Emotion content versus feature content in faces presented under contineous flash suppression: Spatial frequency concent selectively contributes to access to awareness of emotion in faces
Huis, S. van
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During breaking continuous flash suppression (b-CFS), a static image of increasing contrast and a dynamic mask are presented dichoptically. It has been suggested that images of threat faces gain preferential access to awareness because of their emotional content. However, it is argued that low-level image features are behind the apparent emotion content effects. As such, studies risk attributing processing of emotion content in faces to differences in the access to awareness, when in fact this may be absent when controlled for low-level features. Here we investigate whether differences in access to awareness can be accounted for by either the emotion content or the feature content of an image. We used b-CFS to compare detection times of images with their original spatial frequency content and controlled spatial frequency content, comprising 7 emotions (Experiment 1). Our results show no main effects for spatial frequency condition. However, a main effect of emotion was found, as well as an interaction between the spatial frequency conditions and emotions. Specifically, fear, happy, sad and surprise showed differences in suppression durations between spatial frequency conditions. Moreover, in Experiment 2 images of faces without feature adjustments showed that particularly low-spatial frequencies induce differences in access to awareness. Both findings suggest that features in images, in this case spatial frequency content, could attribute to the differences in access to awareness of emotion. Though we conclude that there is not a prototypical spatial frequency content that asserts to all emotions.