How emotion leads to selective memory: Neuroimaging evidence

Department of Psychology, Boston College, McGuinn Hall 300, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, United States.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 03/2011; 49(7):1831-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.03.007
Source: PubMed


Often memory for emotionally arousing items is enhanced relative to neutral items within complex visual scenes, but this enhancement can come at the expense of memory for peripheral background information. This 'trade-off' effect has been elicited by a range of stimulus valence and arousal levels, yet the magnitude of the effect has been shown to vary with these factors. Using fMRI, this study investigated the neural mechanisms underlying this selective memory for emotional scenes. Further, we examined how these processes are affected by stimulus dimensions of arousal and valence. The trade-off effect in memory occurred for low to high arousal positive and negative scenes. There was a core emotional memory network associated with the trade-off among all the emotional scene types, however, there were additional regions that were uniquely associated with the trade-off for each individual scene type. These results suggest that there is a common network of regions associated with the emotional memory trade-off effect, but that valence and arousal also independently affect the neural activity underlying the effect.

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Available from: Elizabeth A Kensinger, Jul 23, 2014
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    • "Some researchers propose that emotion enhances source memory by increasing overall attention and prioritizing binding of emotional items to their contexts (Hadley & MacKay, 2006; Revelle & Loftus, 1992). However, others suggest attentional trade-off between central emotional items and peripheral contextual details (Easterbrook, 1959; Laney, Campbell, Heuer, & Reisberg, 2004), which could compromise memory encoding and binding in emotional situations (Payne, Nadel, Britton, & Jacobs, 2004; Waring & Kensinger, 2011), resulting in impaired source memory. Nevertheless, this controversy may be reconciled when the type of source details involved (i.e., intrinsic vs. extrinsic) is taken into account. "
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    ABSTRACT: Substantial advancements in understanding emotional modulation of item memory notwithstanding, controversies remain as to how emotion influences source memory. Using an emotional extrinsic source memory paradigm combined with Remember/Know judgments and two key event-related potentials (ERPs)-the FN400 (a frontal potential at 300-500ms related to familiarity) and the LPC (a later parietal potential at 500-800ms related to recollection), our research investigated the impact of emotion on extrinsic source memory and the underlying processes. We varied a semantic prompt (either "people" or "scene") preceding a study item to manipulate the extrinsic source. Behavioral data indicated a significant effect of emotion on "remember" responses to extrinsic source details, suggesting impaired recollection-based source memory in emotional (both positive and negative) relative to neutral conditions. In parallel, differential FN400 and LPC amplitudes (correctly remembered - incorrectly remembered sources) revealed emotion-related interference, suggesting impaired familiarity and recollection memory of extrinsic sources associated with positive or negative items. These findings thus lend support to the notion of emotion-induced memory trade off: while enhancing memory of central items and intrinsic/integral source details, emotion nevertheless disrupts memory of peripheral contextual details, potentially impairing both familiarity and recollection. Importantly, that positive and negative items result in comparable memory impairment suggests that arousal (vs. affective valence) plays a critical role in modulating dynamic interactions among automatic and elaborate processes involved in memory. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Biological psychology
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    • "This study utilized negative scenes because the trade-off effect is already well established with this material (Payne et al., 2008). While preliminary studies suggest that the trade-off effect for positive scenes may be less robust than for negative scenes (Waring and Kensinger, 2009, 2011; Chambers and Payne, 2014b), it will nevertheless be important to understand how expectation affects positive memory consolidation going forward. "
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    ABSTRACT: Successful prospective memory is necessarily driven by an expectation that encoded information will be relevant in the future, leading to its preferential placement in memory storage. Like expectation, emotional salience is another type of cue that benefits human memory formation. Although separate lines of research suggest that both emotional information and information explicitly expected to be important in the future benefit memory consolidation, it is unknown how expectation affects the processing of emotional information and whether sleep, which is known to maximize memory consolidation, plays a critical role. The purpose of this study was to investigate how expectation would impact the consolidation of emotionally salient content, and whether this impact would differ across delays of sleep and wake. Participants encoded scenes containing an emotionally charged negative or neutral foreground object placed on a plausible neutral background. After encoding, half of the participants were informed they would later be tested on the scenes (expected condition), while the other half received no information about the test (unexpected condition). At recognition, following a 12-hour delay of sleep or wakefulness, the scene components (objects and backgrounds) were presented separately and one at a time, and participants were asked to determine if each component was old or new. Results revealed a greater disparity for memory of negative objects over their paired neutral backgrounds for both the sleep and wake groups when the memory test was expected compared to when it was unexpected, while neutral memory remained unchanged. Analyzing each group separately, the wake group showed a threefold increase in the magnitude of this object/background trade-off for emotional scenes when the memory test was expected compared to when it was unexpected, while those who slept performed similarly across conditions. These results suggest that emotional salience and expectation cues inter
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    • "Stimuli for the current study were 480 pictures (160 positive , 160 negative, and 160 neutral) selected from the IAPS database, Geneva Affective Picture Database (GAPED), and images used in Waring and Kensinger (2011). Images were selected so that arousal ratings were equated for positive and negative images, whereas positive and negative images were significantly higher in arousal than neutral images. "
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    ABSTRACT: Successful retrieval of an event includes an initial search phase in which the information is accessed and a subsequent elaboration phase in which an individual expands on event details. Traditionally, functional neuroimaging studies examining episodic memory retrieval either have not made a distinction between these two phases or have focused on the initial search process. The current study used an extended retrieval trial to compare the neural correlates of search and elaboration and to examine the effects of emotion on each phase. Before scanning, participants encoded positive, negative, and neutral images paired with neutral titles. After a 30-min delay, participants engaged in a scanned recognition task in which they viewed the neutral titles and indicated whether the title had been presented with an image during the study phase. Retrieval was divided into an initial memory search and a subsequent 5-sec elaboration phase. The current study identified neural differences between the search and elaboration phases, with search being associated with widespread bilateral activations across the entire cortex and elaboration primarily being associated with increased activity in the medial pFC. The emotionality of the retrieval target was more influential during search relative to elaboration. However, valence influenced when the effect of emotion was greatest, with search engaging many more regions for positive events than negative ones, but elaboration engaging the dorsomedial pFC more for negative events than positive events.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
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