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Poster B77

Maintenance suppression reduces the accessibility of visual working memories regardless of their normative valence

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Caleb N. Jerinic-Brodeur1, Marie T. Banich2, Jarrod A. Lewis-Peacock1; 1University of Texas at Austin, 2University of Colorado, Boulder

Prior work has shown that suppressing the maintenance of neutral images in working memory can impair access to that information in immediate and delayed memory tests. Here, we explored whether maintenance suppression has the same impact on negatively valenced images. Intrusive thinking (e.g., rumination) often involves negative thoughts that persist as individuals attempt to push them out of mind. Given the emotional nature of intrusive thoughts, it is important to understand how an item’s valence affects the ability to remove it. We hypothesized that suppressing negative information from working memory would be more difficult compared to positive information because of attentional capture caused by the stimuli’s increased salience. To test this prediction, participants (N = 88) completed a working memory removal experiment using group-normed images with positive or negative valence. Participants encoded two images of the same valence on each trial, were cued to either suppress or maintain one of them, and then responded to a memory probe after a brief delay. Our results demonstrate that participants were faster to endorse an item that had been cued for maintenance, and slower to endorse an item that had been suppressed, regardless of its valence. This demonstrates that maintenance suppression is successful in reducing the accessibility of negative information, and therefore could be an effective tool in the fight against intrusive thinking.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory


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April 13–16  |  2024