Poster D123, Monday, March 26, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Self-relevance underlies disgust salience in episodic memory
David Anaki1, Hannah Tarder-Stoll2, Morris Moscovitch2,3; 1Bar-Ilan University, 2University of Toronto, 3Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
Emotional memory studies have shown greater memory for disgust over other emotions. The reason for this disgust memory-enhancement, however, is unclear. In the present study we examined the hypothesis that disgust-related stimuli are remembered better because of their relevance to the self. We reasoned that even touching pictures depicting disgust-related stimuli would increase the sense of self-contamination and enhance memory. Participants were visually presented with pictures of neutral, disgust-related and fear-inducing stimuli (the latter equated on arousal and valence), overlaid by pairs of digits. Participants were asked to select the numerically larger digit whose physical size was either congruent or incongruent with its numerical value (numerical Stroop task [NST]). Half of the participants responded by pressing designated keyboard buttons, while the others pressed the chosen digit on the touch screen. Following the completion of the NST participants were unexpectedly asked to recall the images. Recall accuracy of the disgusting and fearful images was higher than the neutral images in both response-type groups. However, while memory of disgusting and fearful stimuli was comparable in the keyboard condition, recall was greater for disgusting than fearful images in the touch condition. The disgust enhancement of memory in the touch condition could not be attributed to differential attention at encoding since the NST performance was similar across stimuli. We suggest that participants in the touch condition felt contaminated by the disgust but not the fearful images. As a result these disgusting stimuli became more relevant to the self and subsequently more salient in memory.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic