[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is well-known that the affective value of an environment can be relative to whether it reflects an improvement or a worsening from a previous state. A potential explanation for this phenomenon suggests that relative changes from previous reward contingencies can constrain how brain monitoring systems form predictions about future events. In support of this idea, we found that changes per se relative to previous states of learned reward contingencies modulated the Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN), a human brain potential known to index discrepancies between predictions and affective outcomes. Specifically, we observed that environments with a 50% reward probability yielded different FRN patterns according to whether they reflected an improvement or a worsening from a previous environment. Further, we also found that this pattern of results was driven mainly by variations in the amplitude of ERPs to positive outcomes. Overall, these results suggest that relative changes in reward probability from previous learned environments can constrain how neural systems of outcome monitoring formulate predictions about the likelihood of future rewards and nonrewards.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e66350. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Are emotional memories activated during everyday emotional experiences? What role do such memories play in the appraisal of emotional situations? Is it possible to experience emotion without reactivating past memories? How do we store our emotional experiences? The present chapter will address these questions by examining how memory and emotion processes interact. The authors first examine the attention that these questions have received in the history of emotion theory. Next, they review models and empirical evidence from several domains, including models of emotional memory proposed by social and cognitive theorists as well as contributions of neuroscientists to emotional memory. Then the authors review research pertaining to eyewitness testimony and autobiographical memory priming in emotion. Finally, these diverse theoretical and empirical evidences are integrated and an original model of emotional memory is proposed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Perseverative cognition (i.e., worry, stress-related thinking) may prolong stress-related physiological activation. However, its role within the context of the written emotional disclosure paradigm has not been examined. This study explored: (1) the effects of stress-related thinking on the cortisol awakening response and upper respiratory infection symptoms and; (2) the efficacy of two expressive writing interventions on these health outcomes. METHODS: Participants were randomly assigned to write about their most stressful life experience (using the Guided Disclosure Protocol; n=39) or positive life experiences (n=42) or plans for the day (n=41) for 20min on 3 consecutive days. Participants reported the extent to which they thought about their assigned writing topic during the study and in the past (event-related thought). Cortisol was measured at 0, 15, 30 and 45min after awakening on 2 consecutive days at baseline and 4 weeks post-intervention. Upper respiratory infection (URI) symptoms were assessed at baseline, at 4 weeks and at 6 months. RESULTS: Results showed that the writing interventions had no beneficial effects on any of the outcome measures. However, a significant interaction was found between event-related thought and condition on the cortisol awakening response at 1 month follow-up and URI symptoms at 6 months. Among participants who wrote about stressful/traumatic events, higher stress-related thinking during the study predicted increased cortisol levels and URI symptoms compared to participants who reported low stress-related thinking. DISCUSSION: These findings are broadly consistent with Brosschot et al.'s (2006) perseverative cognition hypothesis and highlight the importance of ruminative thinking in understanding stress-health processes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study of uncertainty in decision-making is receiving greater attention in the fields of cognitive and computational neuroscience. Several lines of evidence are beginning to elucidate different variants of uncertainty. Particularly, risk, ambiguity, and expected and unexpected forms of uncertainty are well articulated in the literature. In this article we review both empirical and theoretical evidence arguing for the potential distinction between three forms of uncertainty; expected uncertainty, unexpected uncertainty, and volatility. Particular attention will be devoted to exploring the distinction between unexpected uncertainty and volatility which has been less appreciated in the literature. This includes evidence mainly from neuroimaging, neuromodulation, and electrophysiological studies. We further address the possible differentiation of cognitive control mechanisms used to deal with these forms of uncertainty. Finally, we explore whether the dual modes of control theory provides a theoretical framework for understanding the distinction between unexpected uncertainty and volatility.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The emotional enhancement of memory is often thought to be determined by attention. However, recent evidence using divided attention paradigms suggests that attention does not play a significant role in the formation of memories for aversive pictures. We report a study that investigated this question using a paradigm in which participants had to encode lists of randomly intermixed negative and neutral pictures under conditions of full attention and divided attention followed by a free recall test. Attention was divided by a highly demanding concurrent task tapping visual processing resources. Results showed that the advantage in recall for aversive pictures was still present in the DA condition. However, mediation analyses also revealed that concurrent task performance significantly mediated the emotional enhancement of memory under divided attention. This finding suggests that visual attentional processes play a significant role in the formation of emotional memories.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: When making decisions we are often faced with uncertainty about the potential outcomes of a choice. We therefore must rely upon a stimulus-response-outcome (S-R-O) rule learned from previous experiences of gains and losses. Here we report a study that used event-related potentials (ERP) to examine the neural and cognitive mechanisms involved in decision making when S-R-O rules are changing in a volatile manner. Thirty-one participants engaged in a reward-based decision-making task in which two contextual determinants of decision uncertainty were independently manipulated: Volatility (i.e. the frequency of changes in the S-R-O rules) and Feedback validity (i.e. the extent to which an S-R-O rule accurately predicts outcomes). Results of stimulus-locked ERPs showed that volatility of S-R-O rules was associated with two well-known neural signatures of cognitive control processes. First, increased S-R-O volatility in a high FV context was associated with frontally-based N2 (200-350ms) and N400 (350-500ms) components. Second, in a low FV context, volatility was associated with an enhanced late positive complex (LPC, 500-800ms) largest on frontal sites. Feedback-locked ERPs showed an enhanced Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN) and P300 for losses compared to wins as well as a volatility driven FRN. These results suggest that, in a high FV context, coping with volatility might involve conflict monitoring processes. However, in a low FV context, coping with frequent changes in the S-R-O rule might require greater attentional and working memory (WM) resources.
Brain research 08/2011; 1417:55-66. · 2.46 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alexithymia is a personality trait associated with the reduced ability to regulate, identify, and communicate feelings or emotions and is often linked to psychosomatic disorders. The present study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the relationship between individual differences in alexithymia and emotion regulation. Participants classified as scoring either high or low on the revised form of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20; Taylor, Bagby, & Parker Psychother Psychosom 57:34-41, 1992) were asked to view negative and neutral images, adopting three different regulation strategies (expressive suppression, cognitive reappraisal, and attend) while ERPs were recorded. Results revealed an inverse relationship between TAS scores and emotion-related ERP activity during suppression, but not during reappraisal or a control "attend" condition. These results were observed in both early and late ERP latencies. These findings are interpreted according to potential differences between high- and low-TAS individuals regarding the frequency of prior utilization of suppression-based regulation strategies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated the extent to which trait anxiety and state anxiety in response to stress are associated with the cortisol awakening response (CAR).Fifty-one healthy participants were recruited. State anxiety measures were taken in anticipation of and during a laboratory stressor. Salivary cortisol levels were measured immediately upon awakening (at 0, 15, 30, and 45 min) on two consecutive mornings. Cortisol awakening response was assessed by the area under the curve with respect to zero (AUCG).The magnitude of the CAR was found to be negatively associated with both trait anxiety and anticipatory anxiety. Moreover, regression analysis showed that the effects of trait anxiety on the AUCG were mediated by anticipatory anxiety.These results suggest that the CAR is influenced by trait anxiety. Moreover, the effect of trait anxiety on the CAR seems to operate by impacting on psychological stress reactivity (i.e., anticipatory anxiety).
Personality and Individual Differences 01/2011; 51(2):123-127. · 1.88 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A growing trend of neuroimaging, behavioral, and computational research has investigated the topic of outcome uncertainty in decision-making. Although evidence to date indicates that humans are very effective in learning to adapt to uncertain situations, the nature of the specific cognitive processes involved in the adaptation to uncertainty are still a matter of debate. In this article, we reviewed evidence suggesting that cognitive control processes are at the heart of uncertainty in decision-making contexts. Available evidence suggests that: (1) There is a strong conceptual overlap between the constructs of uncertainty and cognitive control; (2) There is a remarkable overlap between the neural networks associated with uncertainty and the brain networks subserving cognitive control; (3) The perception and estimation of uncertainty might play a key role in monitoring processes and the evaluation of the "need for control"; (4) Potential interactions between uncertainty and cognitive control might play a significant role in several affective disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Extensive evidence shows that emotional events tend to be remembered in greater detail and with an enhanced sense of vividness compared to neutral events. The current study investigated the neural correlates of this phenomenon during retrieval using the event-related potentials technique (ERP). Participants were asked to perform a memory recognition test of previously studied ("Old") and unstudied ("New") emotional and neutral pictures encoded a week before the test session. Next, they were asked to perform a Remember-Know task (Gardiner and Java, 1993) for each "old" decision. ERPs were created for retrieval activity corresponding to six conditions: Remember-Emotional, Remember-Neutral, Know-Emotional, Know-Neutral, New-Emotional and New-Neutral. Results showed that negative emotion enhanced three distinct subtypes of the electrophysiological old-new effect specifically for old items associated with a "Remember" judgment. This effect was observed for ERP old-new effects conforming to an early frontal P2 old-new effect peaking at ~180 ms, a midfrontal old-new effect starting at ~300 ms (the "FN400") and a late positive complex (LPC) with parietal maxima observed at 500-700 ms. In addition, a breakdown of our data in different levels of emotional arousal revealed that the relationship between ERP correlates of retrieval and arousal conformed to a nonlinear, inverted U-shaped function for posterior late effects (500-700) and to a linear function for early effects (P2 and FN400). Taken together, these results suggest that multiple retrieval subprocesses contribute to the emotional enhancement of recollective experience.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Working memory (WM) processes are often thought to play an important role in the cognitive regulation of negative emotions. However, little is known about how they influence emotional processing. We report two experiments that tested whether a concurrent working memory task could modulate the emotional startle eyeblink effect, a well-known index of emotional processing. In both experiments, emotionally negative and neutral pictures were viewed in two conditions: a "cognitive load" (CL) condition, in which participants had to actively maintain information in working memory (WM) while viewing the pictures, and a control "no load" (NL) condition. Picture-viewing instructions were identical across CL and NL. In both experiments, results showed a significant reduction of the emotional modulation of the startle eyeblink reflex in the CL condition compared to the NL condition. These findings suggest that a concurrent WM task disrupts emotional processing even when participants are directing visual focus on emotionally relevant information.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using emotional film clips is one of the most popular and effective methods of emotion elicitation. The main goal of the present study was to develop and test the effectiveness of a new and comprehensive set of emotional film excerpts. Fifty film experts were asked to remember specific film scenes that elicited fear, anger, sadness, disgust, amusement, tenderness, as well as emotionally neutral scenes. For each emotion, the 10 most frequently mentioned scenes were selected and cut into film clips. Next, 364 participants viewed the film clips in individual laboratory sessions and rated each film on multiple dimensions. Results showed that the film clips were effective with regard to several criteria such as emotional discreteness, arousal, positive and negative affect. Finally, ranking scores were computed for 24 classification criteria: Subjective arousal, positive and negative affect (derived from the PANAS; Watson & Tellegen, 1988), a positive and a negative affect scores derived from the Differential Emotions Scale (DES; Izard et al., 1974), six emotional discreteness scores (for anger, disgust, sadness, fear, amusement and tenderness), and 15 “mixed feelings” scores assessing the effectiveness of each film excerpt to produce blends of specific emotions. In addition, a number of emotionally neutral film clips were also validated. The database and editing instructions to construct the film clips have been made freely available in a website.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exposure to another's account of a shared event can influence the content of an individual's memory report. We examine whether the emotionality of the to-be-remembered information influences the likelihood that socially encountered post-event information is accepted into memory. Participants were exposed to positive, negative or neutral emotional pictures. Subsequently, they had to discriminate these pictures from new pictures in a 'yes/no' recognition decision either before or subsequent to a confederate providing misinformation, accurate or no information. Post-event information influenced participants' responding in the recognition test. Effects were larger for participants viewing neutral items and persisted for these items on a subsequent private source monitoring test. These findings indicate that people rely more on information from others when encountering non-emotional compared to emotional items. We suggest that increased memory strength in conjunction with access to strong retrieval cues in the recognition test serves to shield emotional items from vulnerability to effects of memory conformity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effects of negative emotional intensity on memory-related brain activity were tested by using human scalp event-related potentials (ERP). A neural index of memory function--the electrophysiological 'Old-New' effect--was obtained from participants undertaking a memory recognition test of previously studied ('old') and unstudied ('new') pictures of variable levels of negative emotional intensity. The magnitude of the old-new effect was compared across four different levels of linearly increasing stimulus emotional intensity. Results revealed an inverted-U-shaped effect of emotional intensity on the magnitude of ERP old-new differences starting at 300 ms after stimulus onset. These results suggest that moderate negative emotions can enhance memory brain function, whereas extreme levels of emotional intensity have the potential of inhibiting memory function. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for neurobiological and psychological models of emotion-memory interactions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Considerable evidence suggests that the human amygdala plays an important role in higher cognitive functions in addition to its well-known role in emotional processing. In this article we review representative evidence showing the involvement of the human amygdala in long-term memory, working memory and attention. Results are discussed in terms of their relevance to current theories of amygdala function that can integrate its cognitive and emotional functions in a comprehensive framework.
Reviews in the neurosciences 02/2007; 18(5):355-63. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human amygdala has classically been viewed as a brain structure primarily related to emotions and dissociated from higher cognition. We report here findings suggesting that the human amygdala also has a role in supporting working memory (WM), a canonical higher cognitive function. In a first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study (n = 53), individual differences in amygdala activity predicted behavioral performance in a 3-back WM task. Specifically, higher event-related amygdala amplitude predicted faster response time (RT; r = -0.64), with no loss of accuracy. This relationship was not contingent on mood state, task content, or personality variables. In a second fMRI study (n = 21), we replicated the key finding (r = -0.47) and further showed that the correlation between the amygdala and faster RT was specific to a high working memory load condition (3-back) compared with a low working memory load condition (1-back). These results support models of amygdala function that can account for its involvement not only in emotion but also higher cognition.
Journal of Neuroscience 11/2006; 26(40):10120-8. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To test for a relation between individual differences in personality and neural-processing efficiency, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess brain activity within regions associated with cognitive control during a demanding working memory task. Fifty-three participants completed both the self-report behavioral inhibition sensitivity (BIS) and behavioral approach sensitivity (BAS) personality scales and a standard measure of fluid intelligence (Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices). They were then scanned as they performed a three-back working memory task. A mixed blocked/ event-related fMRI design enabled us to identify both sustained and transient neural activity. Higher BAS was negatively related to event-related activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate, the lateral prefrontal cortex, and parietal areas in regions of interest identified in previous work. These relationships were not explained by differences in either behavioral performance or fluid intelligence, consistent with greater neural efficiency. The results reveal the high specificity of the relationships among personality, cognition, and brain activity. The data confirm that affective dimensions of personality are independent of intelligence, yet also suggest that they might be interrelated in subtle ways, because they modulate activity in overlapping brain regions that appear to be critical for task performance.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study investigates the emotional determinants of the phenomenal characteristics of autobiographical memories. A total of 84 participants completed the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire (MCQ, Johnson, Foley, Suengas, & Raye, 1988) after retrieving and orally describing a negative, a positive, and a neutral autobiographical memory. In addition, self-report and physiological measures of emotional state at retrieval were recorded. Results suggest that recall of perceptual, sensory, and semantic elements is better for emotional memories than for neutral ones. This difference is not significant for contextual and temporal aspects, suggesting that emotional memories are more vivid but no more specific than are neutral ones. In addition, positive memories yielded higher MCQ ratings than did negative memories for sensory, temporal, and contextual aspects. Finally, correlations suggest a positive relation between emotional state at retrieval and level of phenomenal detail of retrieved memories. Results are interpreted in terms of multilevel models of emotion and of Conway and Pleydell-Pearce's (2000) model.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The relation between emotion intensity and the voluntary activation of personal memories was investigated in 2 experiments. Two hypotheses were compared: the specificity hypothesis, which states that emotion intensity is positively related to the specificity of personal memories, and the strategic inhibition hypothesis, which postulates that specifying past experiences requires the inhibition of emotion. Study 1 showed that priming a specific (vs. overgeneral) access mode to autobiographical memory results in less emotion during a subsequent mental imagery trial. Study 2 replicated Study 1 with a wider array of emotions and a different method of emotion induction (films). Overall, results support the strategic inhibition hypothesis. The notion of specificity is discussed as well as implications for cognitive theories of emotion and their clinical applications.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The neural correlates of two hypothesized emotional processing modes, i.e., schematic and propositional modes, were investigated with positron emission tomography. Nineteen subjects performed an emotional mental imagery task while mentally repeating sentences linked to the meaning of the imagery script. In the schematic conditions, participants repeated metaphoric sentences, whereas in the propositional conditions, the sentences were explicit questions about specific emotional appraisals of the imagery scenario. Five types of emotional scripts were proposed to the subjects (happiness, anger, affection, sadness, and a neutral scenario). The results supported the hypothesized distinction between schematic and propositional emotional processing modes. Specifically, schematic mode was associated with increased activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex whereas propositional mode was associated with activation of the anterolateral prefrontal cortex. In addition, interaction analyses showed that schematic versus propositional processing of happiness (compared with the neutral scenario) was associated with increased activity in the ventral striatum whereas "schematic anger" was tentatively associated with activation of the ventral pallidum.