Effects of prior mental effort on picture processing: An ERP investigation Academic Article uri icon


  • The current study examined the aftereffects of mental effort on the processing of picture stimuli using neural measures. Ninety-seven healthy young adults were randomly assigned to exercise more versus less mental effort on a writing task. Then participants viewed positive, negative, and neutral affective images while P1, N1, P2, N2, P3, and late positive potential (LPP) magnitudes to the images were assessed. We found that performing the more (versus less) effortful writing task caused more negative N2 amplitudes to all images. In addition, and consistent with past research, emotional (versus neutral) images elicited more positive amplitudes on the N2, P3, and LPP components. Thus, prior mental effort appeared to reduce early attentional engagement with visual stimuli but did not diminish later attention modulation by emotional content. These findings suggest novel implications for understanding the behavioral aftereffects of mental effort and self-control.

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Garrison, K. E., Crowell, A. L., Finley, A. J., & Schmeichel, B. J.

citation count

  • 10

publication date

  • July 2017