Poster A17, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Stress prior to learning affects resting state functional connectivity and emotional memory at retrieval
Stephanie Sherman1, Sarah M. Kark1, Ryan T. Daley1, Jessica D. Payne2, Elizabeth A. Kensinger1; 1Boston College, 2University of Notre Dame
Stress prior to learning often enhances the retrieval of emotionally arousing items after long delays (e.g. Payne et al., 2007). However, in spite of these behavioral improvements in emotional memory that follow stress exposure, little is known about how this occurs, and specifically how consolidation and retrieval-related neural processes are affected. The purpose of this project was to examine whether a psychosocial stressor administered before encoding would influence subsequent emotional memory retrieval through changes in the functional coupling of the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and medial temporal lobe regions. Participants underwent either the Trier Social Stress Test or a control task prior to viewing a series of negative, positive and neutral scenes. Following an overnight in-lab sleep recording session, participants completed an incidental recognition task. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was collected during incidental encoding and retrieval sessions. Resting state fMRI data collected shortly before the recognition task revealed that greater functional coupling between the amygdala and the vmPFC was associated with negative memory enhancement (negative d’ minus neutral d’) in participants who underwent the psychosocial stressor, β = .53, p = .04. Baseline resting state data demonstrated that this relationship did not exist prior to the stress condition, β = .25, p = .38. These preliminary results illustrate that stress before learning affects brain networks important for emotional memory function.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions