The current study examined whether the interaction between emotion and executive control (EC) is modulated by the processing type of the emotional information. Namely, whether the emotional information is explicitly processed, implicitly processed or passively viewed. In each trial, a negative or neutral picture preceded an arrow-flanker stimulus that was congruent or incongruent. Incongruent stimuli are known to recruit EC. Explicit processing of the pictures (Experiment 1a), which required responding to their emotional content, resulted in emotional interference for congruent but not for incongruent stimuli. Similar effects were shown for the passive viewing condition (Experiment 2). In contrast, implicit processing (Experiment 1b), which required responding to non-emotional content, resulted in emotional interference for both congruent and incongruent stimuli. Thus, our findings indicate that implicit emotional processing affects performance independently of EC recruitment. In contrast, explicit emotional processing and passive viewing of emotional pictures lead to reduced emotional interference when EC is recruited.
- Executive control