Poster A21, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
The Association of Skin Conductance Level with Emotional Memory Performance Over Time
Tony Cunningham1, Elaina Bolinger2, Jan Born2, Jessica Payne1; 1University of Notre Dame, 2University of Tübingen
Increased arousal at encoding as measured by multiple forms of psychophysiological response (e.g. heart rate, skin conductance) is associated with enhanced memory for emotional stimuli (Abercrombie et al., 2008; Cunningham et al., 2014). In the present study, we explored the relationship between skin conductance during the recognition stage of memory and performance on a recognition test. Participants had previously encoded 80 negative and 80 neutral scenes before 12-hour and week-long delays, each followed by recognition tests of 80 original scenes and 80 lures not previously viewed (half negative, half neutral). After the delay, Skin Conductance Level (SCL; the amplitude of the tonic EDA signal at the time of stimulus onset) was lower for correctly remembered negative pictures compared to forgotten negative pictures [t(402)=2.0, p=0.048], while no difference in SCL emerged between correctly remembered and forgotten neutral scenes. Additionally, SCL was lower for correctly rejected lures compared to false alarms for both negative [t(466)=2.9, p=0.004] and neutral [t(304)=2.1, p=0.04] scenes. After the week delay, this relationship reversed such that correctly remembered negative pictures had higher SCLs compared to forgotten negative pictures [t(402)=2.0, p=0.04; no difference in lure or neutral scene responses]. These results suggest that after a short delay, higher levels of arousal at stimulus onset may impede memory, but once memory traces transition to long-term storage, recognition may benefit from increased arousal, a psychophysiological signal that might correspond to better and more detailed memory for past emotional events.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions