Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Diane M. Quinn, Nicole Land

Field of Study



Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access


White and Black participants (N = 111) viewed images of Black protest, police violence against Black victims, and police violence against White victims. Three event-related potentials (ERP) of interest were recorded during the image presentation: the N1, the P2, and the P3. All three reflect selective attention and cognitive memory matching processes. For all components, Black participants showed more efficient memory processes than Whites due to a greater match between the images presented and personal stored information, ps < .001, η2ps > .13. White participants showed less memory match, but paid greater attention to the images. The later P2 and P3 amplitudes demonstrate an effect of image type, ps < .001, η2ps> .08. Black protest photos show a greater match to stored memories than either of the police violence image types, likely due to the heightened media coverage of demonstrations in reaction to several prominent instances of police officers killing Black individuals. Finally the P3, which represents conscious, top-down processing, showed an interaction between participant race and the order with which the images were presented: P3 amplitudes were augmented for the entirety of the task when the first set of images displayed outgroup victims of police violence, likely reflecting fewer stored memories regarding the outgroup and therefore priming subsequent attention allocation, p = .012, η2ps = .07. Results suggest that Black participants have more accessible concepts relevant to police violence and Black protest than White participants, creating more efficient memory matches between stimuli and stored information. White participants, on the other hand, have fewer accessible concepts surrounding issues of police violence and the protests against it, and therefore allocate more attention toward the less familiar images. The effect of these accessible concepts through the time course of neural processing, from pre-attentive to top-down cognition, is discussed.

Major Advisor

Colin W. Leach