Elizabeth A Kensinger

Elizabeth A Kensinger
Boston College, USA | BC · Psychology Department

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310
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Publications

Publications (310)
Article
Experiencing stress before an event can influence how that event is later remembered. In the current study, we examine how individual differences in one’s physiological response to a stressor is related to changes to underlying brain states and memory performance. Specifically, we examined how changes in intrinsic amygdala connectivity relate to po...
Article
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The power of episodic memories is that they bring a past moment into the present, providing opportunities for us to recall details of the experiences, reframe or update the memory, and use the retrieved information to guide our decisions. In these regards, negative and positive memories can be especially powerful: Life’s highs and lows are dispropo...
Article
Few studies have examined how multisensory emotional experiences are processed and encoded into memory. Here, we aimed to determine whether, at encoding, activity within functionally-defined visual- and auditory-processing brain regions discriminated the emotional category (i.e., positive, negative, or neutral) of the multisensory (audio-visual) ev...
Article
Older adults comprise the fastest-growing population in the United States. By exercising their right to vote, guiding the value systems of future generations, and holding political office, they shape the moral context of society. It is therefore imperative that we understand older adults’ capacity for moral decision-making. Although the vast majori...
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Previous literature has shown age-related increases in prosociality (i.e., the tendency to engage in behaviors that benefit others). Can such age-related differences be observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, or would young adults’ higher levels of COVID-19-related stress alter the relation between age and prosociality given the prior findings that...
Article
Objectives: Despite initial concerns about older adult’s emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports from the first months of the pandemic suggested that older adults were faring better than younger adults, reporting lower stress, negative affect, depression, and anxiety. In this study, we examined whether this pattern would persist...
Article
Social restrictions necessary to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) profoundly changed how we socialised, worked and, for students, attended classes. Interestingly, significant sleep pattern shifts occurred in the context of pandemic-related social restrictions. Whether age and chronotype influenced these sleep pattern changes...
Article
The initial phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic changed our lives dramatically, with stay-at-home orders and extreme physical distancing requirements. The present study suggests that how adults remember these disruptions depends, in part, on their age. In two surveys collected from American and Canadian participants during Sum...
Article
Objectives: Previous literature suggests age-related increases in prosociality. Does such an age-prosociality relationship occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, or might the pandemic-as a stressor that may differently influence young and older adults- create a boundary condition on the relationship? If so, can empathy, a well-known prosocial disposi...
Article
Advanced age is often associated with increased emotional well-being, with older adults reporting more positive and less negative affect than younger adults. Here, we test whether this pattern held during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately put older adults at risk. We additionally examine potential moderating effe...
Article
Previous research points to an association between retrieval-related activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and preservation of emotional information compared to co-occurring neutral information following sleep. Although the role of the mPFC in emotional memory likely begins at encoding, little research has examined how mPFC activity durin...
Article
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Measurement(s) Emotional Well-being • sleep quality • worry measurment • social behavior • Stress • self rated health • Alcohol Consumption • Affective Symptoms • chronotype measurement • Anxiety • Personality Trait • Demographic Data • empathy measurement • COVID-19 Related Memory Questions • self-regulation • Emotion • behavioural disinhibition m...
Article
Word retrieval may involve an inhibitory process in which a target word is activated and related words are suppressed. In the current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we examined the inhibition of language processing cortex by the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during word retrieval using an anagram-solving paradigm....
Article
Models of episodic emotional memory typically concern why emotional events are more likely to be remembered than neutral events, focusing on interactions between the amygdala and other medial temporal lobe regions. But memories of emotional events can be distinguished by their affective tone and framing. We propose that the dorsomedial prefrontal c...
Article
Emotional experiences create durable memory traces in the brain, especially when these memories are consolidated in the presence of stress hormones such as cortisol. Although some research suggests cortisol elevation can increase long-term memory for emotional relative to neutral content, the impact of stress and cortisol on the consolidation of em...
Article
As we age, we show increased attention and memory for positive versus negative information, and a key event-related potential (ERP) marker of emotion processing, the late positive potential (LPP), is sensitive to these changes. In young adults the emotion effect on the LPP is also quite sensitive to the self-relevance of stimuli. Here we investigat...
Preprint
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Despite evidence which demonstrates that psychosocial stress interacts with sleep to modulate memory, research that has examined next-day memory for the stressful environment itself has not accounted for post-stressor sleep. Here, participants completed the Trier Social Stress Test or a matched control task with psychophysiological monitoring and s...
Article
Both stress and sleep enhance emotional memory. They also interact, with the largest effect of sleep on emotional memory being seen when stress occurs shortly before or after encoding. Slow wave sleep (SWS) is critical for long‐term episodic memory, facilitated by the temporal coupling of slow oscillations and sleep spindles. Prior work in humans h...
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Empirical evidence demonstrates mental health disparities between sexual and gender minority individuals (SGM) compared with cisgender heterosexual individuals. SGM individuals report elevated rates of emotional distress, symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation and behavior. Social support is inversely relat...
Preprint
Full-text available
Previous research points to an association between retrieval-related activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and preservation of emotional information compared to co-occurring neutral information following sleep. Although the role of the mPFC in emotional memory likely begins at encoding, little research has examined how mPFC activity durin...
Article
Reward-motivated memory has been studied extensively in psychology and neuroscience. Many recognition studies follow the same type of paradigm: stimuli are cued at encoding with high or low reward values which indicate the amount the stimulus is worth if successfully recognized on a subsequent memory test. Each incorrect endorsement of a lure at re...
Article
Self-relevance effects are often confounded by the presence of emotional content, rendering it difficult to determine how brain networks functionally connected to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) are affected by the independent contributions of self-relevance and emotion. This difficulty is complicated by age-related changes in functional...
Preprint
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Sleep and stress have both been shown to enhance emotional memory consolidation. They also interact, with the largest benefit of sleep on emotional memory being seen when stress occurs either shortly before or after memory encoding. Slow wave sleep (SWS) is believed to be critical for episodic memory consolidation, facilitated by the coupling of sl...
Article
Introduction Sleep and stress can both enhance emotional memory consolidation. During slow wave sleep (SWS), oscillatory features such as slow oscillations (SO), sleep spindles (SS), and critically, their coupling, are believed to facilitate consolidation. How they relate to emotional memory consolidation is less clear, and how stress interacts wit...
Article
Introduction Slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep enhance neutral and emotional memory consolidation, respectively. Emotional episodic memory retrieval is also enhanced when encoding-specific functional brain patterns are reactivated at retrieval, especially in ventral visual stream and frontal brain regions as well as amygdala....
Article
Introduction The ability to perceive emotions is a socially-relevant skill critical for healthy interpersonal functioning, while deficits in this ability are associated with psychopathology. Total sleep deprivation (TSD) has been shown to have deleterious effects on emotion perception, yet the extent to which these impairments persist across the da...
Article
Cambridge Core - Cognition - The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Aging - edited by Ayanna K. Thomas
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Emotion and self-referential information can both enhance memory, but whether they do so via common mechanisms across the adult lifespan remains underexplored. To address this gap, the current study directly compared, within the same fMRI paradigm, the encoding of emotionally salient and self-referential information in older adults and younger adul...
Article
In recognition memory paradigms, emotional details are often recognised better than neutral ones, but at the cost of memory for peripheral details. We previously provided evidence that, when peripheral details must be recalled using central details as cues, peripheral details from emotional scenes are at least as likely to be recalled as those from...
Article
The enhancing effects of emotion on memory have been well documented; emotional events are often more frequently and more vividly remembered than their neutral counterparts. Much of the prior research has emphasized the effects of emotion on encoding processes and the downstream effects of these changes at the time of retrieval. In the current revi...
Article
Endel Tulving conducted pioneering work on the explicit and implicit memory systems and demonstrated that priming effects can be long-lasting. It is also well-established that emotion can amplify explicit and implicit memory. Prior work has utilized repetition suppression (RS) of the fMRI-BOLD signal-a reduction in the magnitude of activity over re...
Article
Recent research from our lab has highlighted a prefrontally-mediated control mechanism that decreases the subjective richness of negative episodic events during older adults' episodic memory retrieval. The current study examined whether such a mechanism was also engaged during retrieval of real-world negative events. In a scanned autobiographical m...
Article
Although the role of the amygdala in emotional memory retrieval has long been established, how such engagement varies depending on valence and retrieval context is less clearly understood. Participants retrieved personal memories associated with primarily positive, primarily negative, and mixed-valence images, pressing a button when successful. The...
Article
Memory retrieval is thought to involve the reactivation of encoding processes. Previous fMRI work has indicated that reactivation processes are modulated by the residual effects of the prior emotional encoding context; different spatial patterns emerge during retrieval of memories previously associated with negative compared with positive or neutra...
Article
Relative to neutral memories, negative and positive memories both exhibit an increase in memory longevity, subjective memory re-experiencing and amygdala activation. These memory enhancements are often attributed to shared influences of arousal on memory. Yet, prior work suggests the intriguing possibility that arousal affects memory networks in va...
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Full-text available
Sleep and stress independently enhance emotional memory consolidation. In particular, theta oscillations (4–7 Hz) during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep increase coherence in an emotional memory network (i.e., hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex) and enhance emotional memory. However, little is known about how stress during learning might i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Memory retrieval is thought to involve the reactivation of encoding processes. Previous fMRI work has indicated that reactivation processes are modulated by the residual effects of the prior emotional encoding context; different spatial patterns emerge during retrieval of memories previously associated with negative compared to positive or neutral...
Article
Past events, particularly emotional experiences, are often vividly recollected. However, it remains unclear how qualitative information, such as low-level visual salience, is reconstructed and how the precision and bias of this information relate to subjective memory vividness. Here, we tested whether remembered visual salience contributes to vivid...
Article
The amygdala is well documented as the critical nexus of emotionally enhanced memory, yet its role in the creation of negative memory biases, better memory for negative compared with positive stimuli, has not been clarified. Although prior work suggests valence-specific effects at the moment of "online" encoding and retrieval, with enhanced visuose...
Article
Previous research has revealed an age-related shift in how individuals recall events from their personal past, with older adults reporting events that are more positive than young adults. We recently showed that age-by-valence interactions may be partially driven by a prefrontally mediated control mechanism recruited by older adults during retrieva...
Article
Age is associated with shifts toward more positive memory retrieval. The current study examined these shifts following a negative public event. Participants completed two surveys examining emotional responses to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, one immediately following the attack and another 6 months later. Age was associated with different effe...
Article
Sleep preferentially preserves aspects of memory that are most salient and valuable to remember at the expense of memory for less relevant details. Daytime naps and nocturnal sleep enhance this emotional memory trade-off effect, with memory for emotional components correlated with slow-wave sleep during the day and rapid eye movement sleep overnigh...
Article
Memory consolidation processes can be highly selective. For example, emotional aspects of events tend to be consolidated more readily than other, more neutral aspects. We first describe evidence that the sleeping brain provides an ideal environment for memory consolidation, and that active, as opposed to passive, sleep-based consolidation processes...
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Despite inter-individual differences in cortical structure, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have demonstrated a large degree of population-level consistency in age-related differences in brain morphology. The present study assessed how accurately an individual’s age could be predicted by estimates of cortical morphology, comparing a variet...
Chapter
People are more likely to remember emotional events as compared to mundane events. Not all aspects of those events are retained, however, and the effects of emotion on memory can vary as a function of the type of emotion evoked by the event and the time course over which memory is tested. In this chapter, we first describe how the arousal and valen...
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Humans, while not wholly altruistic, will often come together to selflessly support and provide aid to others in need. To date, little attention has been paid to how memory for such positive events in the aftermath of a traumatic event can influence subsequent behavior. The current study examined how the way in which people represent and remember h...
Article
Objectives: Although research has identified age-by-emotion interactions in memory performance and in neural recruitment during retrieval, it remains unclear which retrieval processes are affected. The temporal resolution of event-related potentials (ERPs) provides a way to examine different component processes that operate during retrieval. Meth...
Article
A hallmark feature of episodic memory is that of “mental time travel,” whereby an individual feels they have returned to a prior moment in time. Cognitive and behavioral neuroscience methods have revealed a neurobiological counterpart: Successful retrieval often is associated with reactivation of a prior brain state. We review the emerging literatu...
Article
Memory retrieval involves the reactivation of processes that were engaged at encoding. Using a Generalized Linear Model to test for effects of valence, our prior study suggests that memory for information previously encoded in a negative context reengages sensory processing regions at retrieval to a greater extent than positive. Here, we used parti...
Article
Social transmission of memory and its consequence on collective memory have generated enduring interdisciplinary interest because of their widespread significance in interpersonal, sociocultural, and political arenas. We tested the influence of 3 key factors—emotional salience of information, group structure, and information distribution—on mnemoni...
Article
Prior research has identified age-by-valence interactions in both behavior and neural recruitment; age has been associated with increased retrieval of positive relative to negative information as well as an increased tendency to recruit prefrontal regions during negative event retrieval and for this recruitment to correspond to decreased hippocampa...
Article
Over the last several decades, neuroimaging research has identified age-related neural changes that occur during cognitive tasks. These changes are used to help researchers identify functional changes that contribute to age-related impairments in cognitive performance. One commonly reported example of such a change is an age-related decrease in the...
Article
All lives contain negative events, but how we think about these events differs across individuals; negative events often include positive details that can be remembered alongside the negative, and the ability to maintain both representations may be beneficial. In a survey examining emotional responses to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the curre...
Article
While positive emotional functioning may be enhanced across adulthood and old age, research is mixed as to the types of regulatory strategies that are more or less beneficial for facilitating well-being. The goal of the present study was to examine how specific cognitive emotion regulation strategies assumed to rely on varying levels of effortful p...
Article
Research has investigated how sleep affects emotional memory and how emotion enhances visual processing, but these questions are typically asked by re-presenting an emotional stimulus at retrieval. For the first time, we investigate whether sleep affects neural activity during retrieval when the memory cue is a neutral context that was previously p...
Article
Most studies using a recognition memory paradigm examine the neural processes that support the ability to consciously recognize past events. However, there can also be nonconscious influences from the prior study episode that reflect repetition suppression effects-a reduction in the magnitude of activity for repeated presentations of stimuli-that a...
Article
Prior research has demonstrated that sleep enhances memory for future-relevant information, including memory for information that is salient due to emotion, reward, or knowledge of a later memory test. Although sleep has been shown to prioritize information with any of these characteristics, the present study investigates the novel question of how...
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In the current study we examine how individual differences in older adults' global cognitive function impacts the extent to which their attitudes toward stigmatized individuals are malleable. Because prior research has elucidated the neural processes that are involved in evaluating stigmatized individuals who are responsible or not responsible for...
Article
In order to determine if highly negative stigma is a more salient cue than other negative emotional, non-stigmatized cues, participants underwent EEG while passively viewing or actively regulating their emotional response to images of highly negative stigmatized (e.g., homeless individuals, substance abusers), or highly negative non-stigmatized (e....
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In daily life, emotional events are often discussed with others. The influence of these social interactions on the veracity of emotional memories has rarely been investigated. The authors (Choi, Kensinger, & Rajaram Memory and Cognition, 41, 403-415, 2013) previously demonstrated that when the categorical relatedness of information is controlled, e...
Article
Explicit memory is widely assumed to reflect the conscious processes of recollection and familiarity. However, familiarity has been hypothesized to be supported by nonconscious processing. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment, we assessed whether familiarity is mediated by some of the same regions that mediate repe...
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Recent research reveals an age-related increase in positive autobiographical memory retrieval using a number of positivity measures, including valence ratings and positive word use. It is currently unclear whether the positivity shift in each of these measures co-occurs, or if age uniquely influences multiple components of autobiographical memory r...
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Enhanced emotional memory often comes at the cost of memory for surrounding background information. Narrowed-encoding theories suggest that this is due to narrowed attention for emotional information at encoding, leading to impaired encoding of background information. Recent work has suggested that an encoding-based theory may be insufficient. Here...
Article
A recent study demonstrates that memory for ostensibly irrelevant events can be enhanced when new information reveals that those events are important. These findings emphasize that memories are malleable, such that new information can update the priority and content of existing memory traces. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Although both nonscientists and scientists alike have long promoted the idea that sleep is beneficial to memory, recent work has shown that the effects of sleep on memory are selective: Sleep 'selects,' or preferentially consolidates, the most salient or goal-relevant aspect of an experience, resulting in facilitated retrieval of that information u...
Article
After information is encoded into memory, it undergoes an offline period of consolidation that occurs optimally during sleep. The consolidation process not only solidifies memories, but also selectively preserves aspects of experience that are emotionally salient and relevant for future use. Here, we provide evidence that an afternoon nap is suffic...
Article
The present study asks how subliminal exposure to negative stereotypes about age-related memory deficits affects older adults’ memory performance. Whereas prior research has focused on the effect of “stereotype threat” on older adults’ memory for neutral material, the present study additionally examines the effect on memory for positive and negativ...
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Memory suppression refers to the ability to exclude distracting memories from conscious awareness, and this ability can be assessed with the think/no-think paradigm. Recent research with older adults has provided evidence suggesting both intact and deficient memory suppression. The present studies seek to understand the conditions contributing to o...
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Objectives: Successful emotion regulation partly depends on our capacity to modulate emotional responses through the use of cognitive strategies. Age may affect the strategies employed most often; thus, we examined younger and older adults' neural network connectivity when employing two different strategies: cognitive reappraisal and selective att...
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Although rises in cortisol can benefit memory consolidation, as can sleep soon after encoding, there is currently a paucity of literature as to how these two factors may interact to influence consolidation. Here we present a protocol to examine the interactive influence of cortisol and sleep on memory consolidation, by combining three methods: eye...
Article
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The last decade has seen an increase in neuroimaging studies examining structural (i.e., structural integrity of white matter tracts) and functional connectivity (e.g., correlations in neural activity throughout the brain). Although structural and functional connectivity changes have often been measured independently, examining the relation between...
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The present study examined age differences in the timing and neural recruitment within lateral and medial PFC while younger and older adults hedonically regulated their responses to unpleasant film clips. When analyses focused on activity during the emotional peak of the film clip (the most emotionally salient portion of the film), several age diff...
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The present study examined memory accuracy and confidence for personal and public event details of the 2008 presidential election in healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Participants completed phone interviews within a week after the election and after a 10-month delay. MCI patients and healthy older adults had compa...
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Numerous studies have investigated the neural substrates supporting cognitive reappraisal, identifying the importance of cognitive control processes implemented by prefrontal cortex (PFC). The current study examined how valence and attention affect the processes used for cognitive reappraisal by asking participants to passively view or to cognitive...
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Though the hippocampus typically has been implicated in processes related to associative binding, special types of associations - such as those created by integrative mental imagery - may be supported by processes implemented in other medial temporal-lobe or sensory processing regions. Here, we investigated what neural mechanisms underlie the forma...