Poster Session F, Tuesday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Developing a new behavioral paradigm for testing an executive stopping process over long term memory retrieval
Kelsey Sundby1, Sumitash Jana1, Adam R. Aron; 1University of California San Diego
Much research has investigated whether and how executive control can be deployed to prevent unwanted thoughts from being retrieved from long term memory (LTM). In the so-called Think/No Think (TNT) task subjects first learn multiple word pairs. In a later phase, subjects are presented with a cue word from the pair and asked to either think or not think of the learned associate. Several studies show that “no-think” trials recruit prefrontal regions, perhaps those overlapping with action-stopping, and that this might be key in preventing intrusions and inducing subsequent forgetting. Research in this area is somewhat hampered, however, by poor experimental control over what subjects do when instructed to “not think”. Here we designed a new task to more explicitly test whether a motor stop-like process does indeed disrupt LTM retrieval. In this task the TNT instruction was replaced with “Speak” or “No Speak” – on each trial they prepared to speak the associate, but on some trials a stop signal instructed them to withhold. After each trial participants responded to an “intrusion” question by reporting whether the associate came to mind. In a pilot study we found that “no speak” signals 150ms post cue word resulted in fewer intrusions (p=.025). Results will be presented from a fully powered sample. This research has the potential to clarify whether, how and when a prefrontal action-stopping like process disrupts LTM. In so doing, this may reveal new insights into the executive control processes for preventing unwanted memories from coming to mind.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control