Poster C17, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
The effect of emotional expectation on episodic encoding in young and older adults
Brittany Corbett1, Lisa Weinberg1, Audrey Duarte1; 1Georgia Institute of Technology
In everyday life, negative events often happen without notice, such as a car accident or a robbery but little is known about memory for unexpected emotional events. This study investigated if being prepared to experience a negative event can change the way it is encoded for younger and older adults. In an fMRI paradigm, participants viewed negative and neutral pictures preceded by cues that were either reliable predictors of the valence of the image (valid) or cues that were unreliable predictors of the valence (invalid). Participants were asked to rate the emotional intensity of these pictures during encoding and to complete a recognition task immediately after scanning. Negative stimuli preceded by an invalid cue were rated more intensely than negative stimuli preceded by a valid cue, particularly for older adults. While young adults’ memory was superior for invalidly cued events, older adults’ memory was better for validly cued events. Imaging results showing an age-related increase in negative cue-related activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) suggest that older adults may engage anticipatory processes to support emotional encoding. Consistent with behavioral performance, posterior parietal activity predictive of encoding success was greater for invalid events than valid events in the young, and for valid than invalid events in the old. In contrast to existing findings from the cognitive, non-emotional domain, these results suggest that older adults are able to use cues to anticipate emotional events and improve their memory performance.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions