From cognitive control to visual incongruity: Conflict detection in surrealistic images

Ruzzoli, M. , McGuinness, A., Morís Fernández, L. and Soto-Faraco, S. (2020) From cognitive control to visual incongruity: Conflict detection in surrealistic images. PLoS ONE, 15(6), e0224053. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224053) (PMID:32497075) (PMCID:PMC7272058)

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This study explored brain responses to images that exploit incongruity as a creative technique, often used in advertising (i.e., surrealistic images). We hypothesized that these images would reveal responses akin to cognitive conflict resulting from incongruent trials in typical laboratory tasks (i.e., Stroop Task). Indeed, in many surrealistic images, common visual elements are juxtaposed to create un-ordinary associations with semantically conflicting representations. We expected that these images engage the conflict processing network that has been described in cognitive neuroscience theories. We addressed this hypothesis by measuring the power of mid-frontal Theta oscillations using EEG while participants watched images through a social media-like interface. Incongruent images, compared to controls, produced a significant Theta power increase, as predicted from the cognitive conflict theory. We also found increased memory for incongruent images one week after exposure, compared to the controls. These findings provide evidence for the incongruent images to effectively engage the viewer’s cognitive control and boost memorability. The results of this study provide validation of cognitive theories in real-life scenarios (i.e., surrealistic ads or art) and offer insights regarding the use of neural correlates as effectiveness metrics in advertising.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: This research was supported by the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (PSI2016-75558-P AEI/FEDER), AGAUR Generalitat de Catalunya (2017 SGR 1545), and the European Research Council (PoC- 727595 to SSF) and. M.R. was supported by a Marie SkłodowskaCurie fellowship (Ctrl Code – 794649 - H2020- MSCA-IF-2017 to MR).
Keywords:Research Article, Research and analysis methods, Biology and life sciences, Medicine and health sciences, Social sciences, Engineering and technology, Computer and information sciences, Physical sciences
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ruzzoli, Dr Manuela
Creator Roles:
Ruzzoli, M.Conceptualization, Data curation, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Ruzzoli, M., McGuinness, A., Morís Fernández, L., and Soto-Faraco, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Ruzzoli et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 15(6):e0224053
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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