Zinchenko, A., Kanske, P., Obermeier, C., Schröger, E., & Kotz, S. A. (2015). Emotion and goal-directed behavior: ERP evidence on cognitive and emotional conflict. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 10, 1577-1587.

Emotion and goal-directed behavior: ERP evidence on cognitive and emotional conflict

Cognitive control supports goal-directed behavior by resolving conflict among opposing action tendencies. Emotion can trigger cognitive control processes, thus speeding up conflict processing when the target dimension of stimuli is emotional. However, it is unclear what role emotionality of the target dimension plays in the processing of emotional conflict (e.g. in irony). In two EEG experiments we compared the influence of emotional valence of the target (emotional, neutral) in cognitive and emotional conflict processing. In order to maximally approximate real-life communication, we used audio-visual stimuli. Participants either categorized spoken vowels (cognitive conflict) or their emotional valence (emotional conflict), while visual information was congruent or incongruent. Emotional target dimension facilitated both cognitive and emotional conflict processing, as shown in a reduced RT conflict effect. In contrast, the N100 in the event-related potentials showed a conflict-specific reversal: the conflict effect was larger for emotional compared to neutral trials in cognitive conflict and smaller in emotional conflict. Additionally, domain-general conflict effects were observed in the P200 and the N200 responses. The current findings confirm that emotions have a strong influence on cognitive and emotional conflict processing. They also highlight the complexity and heterogeneity of the interaction of emotion with different types of conflict.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Life Sciences
Institute of Psychology
Neumarkt 9-19
D-04109 Leipzig


Dagmar Schrödl
Phone: +49 341 97-39570
Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Fax: +49 341 97-39271