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Poster A76

Untangling the Threads of Motivated Memory: Independent Influences of Reward and Emotion

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Holly Bowen1 (, Christopher Madan2; 1Southern Methodist University, 2University of Nottingham

Despite the close link between reward motivation and emotion, their effects on memory have been studied in separate lines of research. The current study takes a novel approach to manipulate motivational and emotional influences orthogonally, and within the same task, to test their interplay on intentional memory formation. If emotion and motivation are tightly linked, they may rely on overlapping cognitive and neural mechanisms, thus we would not expect emotion and reward to interact in memory. Alternatively, they could be distinct constructs and therefore would boost memory when both are included in the same experimental trial, above and beyond additive effects. To test these competing predictions, in Experiment 1, participants (n = 180) completed a recognition task with emotional and neutral words intentionally encoded with high or low reward anticipation cues. In Experiment 2, participants (n = 159) encoded emotional and neutral words with a high or low reward cue, but memory was tested with free recall using study-test blocks. Across studies, there were main effects of emotion and reward in hypothesized directions, but no significant interaction between these factors. Their combination within a trial does not boost memory above and beyond either of these factors alone, in line with the hypothesis that these constructs have similar cognitive and neural mechanisms. Correlational analyses indicated individual differences in reward responsivity or emotional state could not account for reward or emotion effects on memory, perhaps indicating that similar mechanisms may be related to general memory abilities rather than motivational or affective processing.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024