Poster A19, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Influence of acute stress throughout the memory cycle on associative memory
Elizabeth Goldfarb1, Alexa Tompary1, WenXi Zhou1, Lila Davachi1, Elizabeth Phelps1,2; 1New York University, 2Nathan Kline Institute
Acute stress can enhance and impair hippocampal memory. One factor that is critical for the direction of these effects is when the stressor occurs: before learning, after learning, or before a later memory test. Due to differences in stressors and memory tests across studies, it is difficult to compare these effects. Here we use a within-subjects design to investigate the effects of a physiological stressor administered pre-encoding, post-encoding, and pre-retrieval on item-level recognition and associative memory. Participants (N = 30) encoded pairs of emotionally negative words (from a normed list) and neutral images of objects, and provided ratings of valence and arousal. Twenty-four hours after encoding, they were tested on recognition memory for the words, and associative memory for the objects paired with each word. Despite the fact that the same stressor (cold pressor task) was used for each condition, the timing led to distinct effects on recognition and associative memory. Pre-retrieval stress led to worse recognition. By contrast, post-encoding stress enhanced recognition (but not associative memory), specifically for material rated as highly arousing. Finally, pre-encoding stress enhanced gist-level recall for negatively valenced information. Future analyses will incorporate the magnitude of the stress response (salivary cortisol) to explore different mechanisms by which stressor timing modulates memory.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions