Recent studies show that emotional stimuli impair performance to subsequently presented neutral stimuli. Here we show a cross-modal perceptual enhancement caused by emotional cues. Auditory cue words were followed by a visually presented neutral target word. Two-alternative forced-choice identification of the visual target was improved by emotional cues as compared to neutral cues. When the cue was presented visually we replicated the emotion-induced impairment found in other studies. Our results suggest emotional stimuli have a twofold effect on perception. They impair perception by reflexively attracting attention at the expense of competing stimuli. However, emotional stimuli also induce a nonspecific perceptual enhancement that carries over onto other stimuli when competition is reduced, for example, by presenting stimuli in different modalities.

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Keywords Cross-modal effects, Emotion, Visual perception, Word recognition, article, brain depth stimulation, controlled study, emotion, evoked auditory response, human, human experiment, normal human, perception, priority journal, vision, word recognition
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Journal Cognition
Zeelenberg, R, & Bocanegra, B.R. (2010). Auditory emotional cues enhance visual perception. Cognition, 115(1), 202–206. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2009.12.004