Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Emotion and cognitive function interact to play a central role in determining

human thought and behavior. Attention to emotion can facilitate or hinder cognitive

control efforts based on the given contextual demands of the task at hand. This study used

scalp electroencephalography (EEG) methods to examine the link between valence of

facial stimuli and neural changes associated with emotional face processing and

subsequent inhibitory response. 20 participants completed a gender discrimination stop-

signal task using emotional faces. Facial valence did not differentially modulate the P200

event-related potential (ERP), indicating that happy and sad faces recruit similar neural

resources in the context of implicit emotional processing. However, facial valence did

significantly affect participant accuracy during response trials of gender discrimination.

Trials of sad faces resulted in a higher accuracy in comparison to trials of happy faces.

No significant modulation of the frontal P300 due to facial valence was observed. These

results suggest that while facial valence may not modulate neural response during

implicit processing of affective facial stimuli and subsequent inhibitory response,

differences can be observed in behavioral response.

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