Poster C65, Sunday, March 25, 1:00-3:00 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Memory for stereotype-consistent and stereotype-inconsistent information is supported by distinct brain regions
Niv Reggev1, Jason Mitchell1; 1Harvard University
What governs the effects that stereotypes have on our memory? Several theories propose that stereotype-consistent characteristics are more easily associated with social group information stored in memory compared to stereotype-inconsistent traits and behaviors. Alternative theories posit that the unexpected nature of inconsistencies triggers more efficient association mechanisms. Here we report a first attempt to examine these theories using a neural perspective. Undergoing fMRI, participants (N=28) were presented with 204 statements describing various traits and behaviors which were either consistent, neutral or inconsistent with gender stereotypes. Each statement was followed by a male or a female face, and participants judged how likely the presented person was to be characterized by the displayed description. Once outside the scanner, participants completed a memory test for the associations between statements and faces. Results indicated that participants remembered stereotype-consistent information slightly better than stereotype-inconsistent information. Although some cortical regions supported successful memory performance for both consistent and inconsistent information, other regions were uniquely sensitive to memories of only one type of information. The fusiform gyrus, typically implicated in the processing of face information, predicted subsequent memory of stereotype-consistent information. Conversely, the anterior temporal lobe and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, implicated in storing and integrating semantic and socially-relevant knowledge in long term memory, contributed uniquely to memory of inconsistent information. Together, these findings suggest that memory of stereotype consistency is supported by facilitated association of perceptual information, whereas stereotype inconsistencies rely on more elaborate activation of the underlying stereotypical concepts.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic