Emotional enhancement of memory for neutral information: The complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation

Joseph E. Dunsmoor, Marijn C.W. Kroes, Vishnu P. Murty, Stephen H. Braren, Elizabeth A. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

It can be challenging to explain why certain mundane details circumstantial to an emotional event are nonetheless remembered long after the experience. Here, we examined how attention selectively shapes memory for neutral objects that happen to coincide with either an unexpected or anticipated emotional event. Pictures of neutral objects were presented for 2 s and terminated with either a high-intensity shock, a low-intensity shock, or no shock. Recognition memory was tested 24 -hs later in a surprise test. Results showed no effect of shock intensity on memory for attended objects when shocks were unpredictable (Experiment 1). Similarly, there was no effect of shock intensity for attended objects when shock delivery was signaled before the object appeared (Experiment 2). There was a reduction in memory for unattended objects paired with an anticipated high-intensity shock (Experiment 3). Finally, subjects recognized slightly more attended objects paired with a high-intensity shock if shock intensity was signaled one second after the object was encoded (Experiment 4). We conclude that simply pairing objects with high-intensity shocks is insufficient to drive episodic memory enhancements for neutral information. But anticipation of an impending source of arousal can induce bidirectional effects: attending to an impending emotional event interferes with encoding of neutral information, but encoding an object just prior to anticipation of an emotional event can sometimes benefit memory. Overall, these results highlight a complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation on emotion-induced memory for neutral information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume145
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Fingerprint

Arousal
Shock
Episodic Memory
Emotions

Keywords

  • Emotional memory
  • Episodic
  • Fear conditioning
  • Recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Cite this

Emotional enhancement of memory for neutral information : The complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation. / Dunsmoor, Joseph E.; Kroes, Marijn C.W.; Murty, Vishnu P.; Braren, Stephen H.; Phelps, Elizabeth A.

In: Biological Psychology, Vol. 145, 07.2019, p. 134-141.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dunsmoor, Joseph E. ; Kroes, Marijn C.W. ; Murty, Vishnu P. ; Braren, Stephen H. ; Phelps, Elizabeth A. / Emotional enhancement of memory for neutral information : The complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation. In: Biological Psychology. 2019 ; Vol. 145. pp. 134-141.
@article{aa57cb929c334170a5a10c78b61e6e6b,
title = "Emotional enhancement of memory for neutral information: The complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation",
abstract = "It can be challenging to explain why certain mundane details circumstantial to an emotional event are nonetheless remembered long after the experience. Here, we examined how attention selectively shapes memory for neutral objects that happen to coincide with either an unexpected or anticipated emotional event. Pictures of neutral objects were presented for 2 s and terminated with either a high-intensity shock, a low-intensity shock, or no shock. Recognition memory was tested 24 -hs later in a surprise test. Results showed no effect of shock intensity on memory for attended objects when shocks were unpredictable (Experiment 1). Similarly, there was no effect of shock intensity for attended objects when shock delivery was signaled before the object appeared (Experiment 2). There was a reduction in memory for unattended objects paired with an anticipated high-intensity shock (Experiment 3). Finally, subjects recognized slightly more attended objects paired with a high-intensity shock if shock intensity was signaled one second after the object was encoded (Experiment 4). We conclude that simply pairing objects with high-intensity shocks is insufficient to drive episodic memory enhancements for neutral information. But anticipation of an impending source of arousal can induce bidirectional effects: attending to an impending emotional event interferes with encoding of neutral information, but encoding an object just prior to anticipation of an emotional event can sometimes benefit memory. Overall, these results highlight a complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation on emotion-induced memory for neutral information.",
keywords = "Emotional memory, Episodic, Fear conditioning, Recognition",
author = "Dunsmoor, {Joseph E.} and Kroes, {Marijn C.W.} and Murty, {Vishnu P.} and Braren, {Stephen H.} and Phelps, {Elizabeth A.}",
year = "2019",
month = "7",
doi = "10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.05.001",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "145",
pages = "134--141",
journal = "Biological Psychology",
issn = "0019-493X",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Emotional enhancement of memory for neutral information

T2 - The complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation

AU - Dunsmoor, Joseph E.

AU - Kroes, Marijn C.W.

AU - Murty, Vishnu P.

AU - Braren, Stephen H.

AU - Phelps, Elizabeth A.

PY - 2019/7

Y1 - 2019/7

N2 - It can be challenging to explain why certain mundane details circumstantial to an emotional event are nonetheless remembered long after the experience. Here, we examined how attention selectively shapes memory for neutral objects that happen to coincide with either an unexpected or anticipated emotional event. Pictures of neutral objects were presented for 2 s and terminated with either a high-intensity shock, a low-intensity shock, or no shock. Recognition memory was tested 24 -hs later in a surprise test. Results showed no effect of shock intensity on memory for attended objects when shocks were unpredictable (Experiment 1). Similarly, there was no effect of shock intensity for attended objects when shock delivery was signaled before the object appeared (Experiment 2). There was a reduction in memory for unattended objects paired with an anticipated high-intensity shock (Experiment 3). Finally, subjects recognized slightly more attended objects paired with a high-intensity shock if shock intensity was signaled one second after the object was encoded (Experiment 4). We conclude that simply pairing objects with high-intensity shocks is insufficient to drive episodic memory enhancements for neutral information. But anticipation of an impending source of arousal can induce bidirectional effects: attending to an impending emotional event interferes with encoding of neutral information, but encoding an object just prior to anticipation of an emotional event can sometimes benefit memory. Overall, these results highlight a complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation on emotion-induced memory for neutral information.

AB - It can be challenging to explain why certain mundane details circumstantial to an emotional event are nonetheless remembered long after the experience. Here, we examined how attention selectively shapes memory for neutral objects that happen to coincide with either an unexpected or anticipated emotional event. Pictures of neutral objects were presented for 2 s and terminated with either a high-intensity shock, a low-intensity shock, or no shock. Recognition memory was tested 24 -hs later in a surprise test. Results showed no effect of shock intensity on memory for attended objects when shocks were unpredictable (Experiment 1). Similarly, there was no effect of shock intensity for attended objects when shock delivery was signaled before the object appeared (Experiment 2). There was a reduction in memory for unattended objects paired with an anticipated high-intensity shock (Experiment 3). Finally, subjects recognized slightly more attended objects paired with a high-intensity shock if shock intensity was signaled one second after the object was encoded (Experiment 4). We conclude that simply pairing objects with high-intensity shocks is insufficient to drive episodic memory enhancements for neutral information. But anticipation of an impending source of arousal can induce bidirectional effects: attending to an impending emotional event interferes with encoding of neutral information, but encoding an object just prior to anticipation of an emotional event can sometimes benefit memory. Overall, these results highlight a complex interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation on emotion-induced memory for neutral information.

KW - Emotional memory

KW - Episodic

KW - Fear conditioning

KW - Recognition

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85065431340&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85065431340&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.05.001

DO - 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.05.001

M3 - Article

C2 - 31075362

AN - SCOPUS:85065431340

VL - 145

SP - 134

EP - 141

JO - Biological Psychology

JF - Biological Psychology

SN - 0019-493X

ER -