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Emotion strengthens high priority memory traces but weakens low priority memory traces

Sakaki, M., Fryer, K. and Mather, M. (2014) Emotion strengthens high priority memory traces but weakens low priority memory traces. Psychological Science, 25 (2). pp. 387-395. ISSN 0956-7976

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0956797613504784

Abstract/Summary

When people encounter emotional events, their memory for those events is typically enhanced. But it has been unclear how emotionally arousing events influence memory for preceding information. Does emotional arousal induce retrograde amnesia or retrograde enhancement? The current study revealed that this depends on the top-down goal relevance of the preceding information. Across three studies, we found that emotional arousal induced by one image facilitated memory for the preceding neutral item when people prioritized that neutral item. In contrast, an emotionally arousing image impaired memory for the preceding neutral item when people did not prioritize that neutral item. Emotional arousal elicited by both negative and positive pictures showed this pattern of enhancing or impairing memory for the preceding stimulus depending on its priority. These results indicate that emotional arousal amplifies the effects of top-down priority in memory formation.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:No
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:33962
Publisher:Sage Publications

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