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Freezing promotes perception of coarse visual features

Freezing promotes perception of coarse visual features

Lojowska, Maria, Gladwin, Thomas E., Hermans, Erno J. and Roelofs, Karin (2015) Freezing promotes perception of coarse visual features. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144 (6). pp. 1080-1088. ISSN 0096-3445 (Print), 1939-2222 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000117)

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Abstract

Freezing is an evolutionarily preserved defensive behavior, characterized by immobility and heart rate deceleration, which is thought to promote visual perception. Rapid perceptual assessment of threat is crucial in life-threatening situations; for example, when policemen need to make split-second decisions about the use of deadly force. Here, we hypothesized that freezing is specifically associated with better perception of rapidly processed coarse, low-spatial frequency (LSF) features. We used a visual discrimination task in which participants determined the orientation of LSF and high-spatial frequency (HSF) gratings under threat of shock and safe conditions. As predicted, threat anticipation improved perception of LSF at the expense of HSF gratings. Crucially, stronger decrease in heart rate, a parasympathetic physiological index of freezing, was linked to better perception of LSF. These results provide empirical evidence for the comobilization of physiological and perceptual processes, which may play an important role in decision making under acute stress.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: freezing, visual perception, spatial frequency, fear bradycardia
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Mental Health
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2020 09:34
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: REF 6
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/27683

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