The present event-related potential (ERP) study was conducted to investigate the P3 component in response to love-related stimuli while controlling for task-related factors, and to dissociate the influences of both love-related and task-related attention on the P3 amplitude. In an oddball paradigm, photographs of beloved and friends served as target and distractor stimuli. Love-related and task-related attention were separated by varying the target and distractor status of the beloved and friends full factorially. As expected, the P3 amplitude was larger for beloved compared to friends and for targets compared to distractors. Moreover, task-related and love-related attention were unconfounded. These results are in line with findings that the P3 is modulated by both emotion- and task-related factors, supporting the view that the P3 amplitude reflects attention. Furthermore, this study validates the notion that romantic love is accompanied by increased attention for stimuli associated with the beloved, and also shows that this form of attention is different from task-related attention.

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Neuroscience Letters
Department of Psychology

Langeslag, S., Franken, I., & van Strien, J. (2008). Dissociating love-related attention from task-related attention: An event-related potential oddball study. Neuroscience Letters, 431(3), 236–240. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2007.11.044