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Poster E38

Emotional dissociations in temporal associations: opposing effects of arousal on memory for details surrounding unpleasant events

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Sanda Dolcos1 (, Paul Bogdan2, Kara Federmeier1, Alejandro Lleras1, Hillary Schwarb3, Florin Dolcos1; 1University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2Duke University, 3University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Research targeting emotion’s impact on relational episodic memory has largely focused on spatial aspects, but less is known about emotion’s impact on memory for an event’s temporal associations. The present research investigated this topic. Participants viewed a series of interspersed negative and neutral images with instructions to create stories linking successive images. Later, participants performed a surprise memory test, which measured temporal associations between pairs of consecutive pictures where one picture was negative, and one was neutral. Analyses focused on how the order of negative and neutral images during encoding influenced retrieval accuracy. Converging results from a discovery study (N = 72) and a pre-registered replication study (N = 150) revealed a “forward-favoring” effect of emotion in temporal memory encoding: participants encoded associations between negative stimuli and subsequent neutral stimuli more strongly than associations between negative stimuli and preceding neutral stimuli. Finally, preliminary analyses of data (N =29) from an ERP study using the same design have shown centroparietal positivity patterns linked to the identified emotional memory effects, which suggests that the “forward-favoring” effect of emotion may be linked to attentional mechanisms. Overall, these findings may reflect a novel trade-off regarding emotion’s effects on memory and are relevant for understanding affective disorders, as key clinical symptoms can be conceptualized as maladaptive memory retrieval of temporal details.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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April 13–16  |  2024