Enhanced post-learning memory consolidation is influenced by arousal predisposition and emotion regulation but not by stimulus valence or arousal

Department of Psychology and The Integrative Neuroscience Research Center, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, USA.
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (Impact Factor: 3.65). 04/2009; 92(1):70-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2009.03.002
Source: PubMed


Emotionally arousing stimuli are more memorable than neutral ones and arousal induced after learning enhances later retrieval. However, there is as yet little study of how stimulus qualities might interact with induced arousal and how individual differences might influence the modulation of memory. Thus, the present study examined the effect of arousal induced after learning on memory for words that varied in both arousal and valence quality, as well as the influence of three individual differences factors that are known to influence arousal response: emotional suppression, emotional reappraisal, and arousal predisposition. Seventy-six adults (57 female) viewed and rated 60 words that normatively ranged from high to low in arousal and valence. Ten minutes later, they viewed a 3-min comedic or neutral video clip. Arousal induced after learning enhanced 1-week delayed memory, spanning the lengthy task without preference for word type or serial position, contrasting with reports of arousal effects interacting with stimulus qualities. Importantly, being predisposed to arousal led to greater enhancement of long-term memory modulation, while the use of emotional reappraisal, which reduces arousal responding, inhibited the ability of arousal to induce memory enhancement. Thus, individual differences that influence arousal responding can contribute to or interfere with memory modulation.

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    • "Different post-learning treatments including arousing music (Judde and Rickard, 2010), emotionally positive or negative video clips (Wang and Fu, 2010), muscle tension (Nielson et al., 1996) and stress (Cahill et al., 2003) improve memory performance of participants. Memory enhancement is still visible when the learning stimuli (e.g., word lists) are emotionally negative or positive (Nielson and Lorber, 2009). However, it is also suggested that the effect of post-learning treatment is selective for arousing stimuli (e.g., Cahill et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive psychological and neurobiological studies have shown that presenting emotional events after learning enhances memory performance. It has been suggested that arousal induced by emotional stimuli modulates memory consolidation. However, little is known about the memory consolidation process in education. The goal of this study is to investigate the effect of post-learning arousal on memory consolidation in an applied educational setting. Participants were presented with either emotionally arousing or neutral pictures after they studied the instructional materials. Their memory for instructional materials was tested by an immediate free-recall test and a recognition test administered after one week. The results suggest that presenting emotionally arousing pictures compared to neutral pictures enhanced recognition memory performance. These findings support that emotional stimuli facilitated consolidation of memory traces. By incorporating theories in cognitive psychology and neurobiology and using them in an educational setting, this study proposes a novel way to enhance learning through emotional arousal.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · International Journal of Innovation and Learning
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    • "In line with this, a study of the modulation of emotional memory by arousal and reappraisal found significant emotional memory and modulation effects. That is, individuals who used reappraisal more often reported lower levels of emotional arousal for emotional words than those who used reappraisal less often (Nielson and Lorber, 2009). When a surprise recognition test was conducted one week after the initial encoding, the emotiondependent memory enhancement for words was smaller for frequent reappraisers less frequent reappraisers. "
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the effect of cognitive reappraisal on emotional arousal, facial expressivity and subsequent memory. Men and women viewed emotionally negative pictures while they attempted to either increase or decrease negative emotions elicited by the pictures, or to simply view the pictures. Neutral pictures were also presented with instructions to simply view the pictures. Concurrent changes in emotional arousal and valence were assessed with skin conductance responses (SCRs) and facial corrugator electromyographic responses (EMG), respectively. Picture memory was assessed with an immediate recall test and a delayed recognition test. Relative to simply viewing pictures, voluntary reappraisal to increase negative emotion generated greater facial corrugator EMG and SCR responses, and reappraisal to decrease negative emotion generated decreased corrugator EMG responses. Men showed enhanced recognition for pictures presented during the increase and decrease conditions, whereas women showed comparable recognition performance across all regulation conditions. The modulation of subsequent recognition memory associated with decreasing emotion was inversely associated with changes in physiological responses. Our results suggest that sex is an important factor to consider in determining how reappraisal-induced physiological changes are associated with subsequent changes in memory. These findings contribute to our understanding of how reappraising emotion exerts both immediate and enduring influences on physiological responses and subsequent memory.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
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    • "It is uncertain why these divergent findings emerged and continued examination of potential emotion regulation differences between these groups is recommended. The ERQ is a frequently used self-report instrument assessing emotion regulation strategies (Gortner et al., 2006; Lam et al., 2009; Nielson & Lorber, 2009; Raftery & Bizer, 2009), yet to date there have been only two published examinations, including the initial validation study, exploring its psychometric properties, both of which were limited. Gross and John (2003) used the same sample when conducting both exploratory and CFAs and their sample was predominately of European American and Asian American descent. "
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    ABSTRACT: Emotion regulation is widely studied in many areas of psychology and the number of publications on emotion regulation has increased exponentially over the past few decades. Additionally, interest in the relationships between emotion dysregulation processes and psychopathology has drastically increased in recent years. The Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) was developed to measure two specific constructs related to emotion control: reappraisal and suppression (Gross & John, 2003). In its initial validation study and subsequent analyses, the instrument was shown to possess sound psychometric properties, but, to date, inquiry regarding the measure's characteristics has been limited. Factor analytic examinations of commonly used instruments are recommended to validate the properties of a given measure and increase researchers understanding of the measured constructs. The current study examined the psychometric properties of the ERQ in a sample of 1,188 undergraduates through confirmatory factor analysis. Additionally, tests of measurement invariance were employed in order to examine potential structural differences based on gender and ethnicity. The current study supported the original structure of the measure with all demographic groups and exceptional fit was demonstrated. Additional normative data for gender and ethnic groups are included. Results support the use of the instrument in future research.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Journal of Clinical Psychology
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