Retro-active Emotion: Do Negative Emotional Stimuli Disrupt Consolidation in Working Memory?

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While many studies have shown that a task-irrelevant emotionally arousing stimulus can interfere with the processing of a shortly following target, it remains unclear whether an emotional stimulus can also retro-actively interrupt the ongoing processing of an earlier target. In two experiments, we examined whether the presentation of a negative emotionally arousing picture can disrupt working memory consolidation of a preceding visual target. In both experiments, the effects of negative emotional pictures were compared with the effects of neutral pictures. In Experiment 1, the pictures were entirely task-irrelevant whereas in Experiment 2 the pictures were associated with a 2-alternative forced choice task that required participants to respond to the color of a frame surrounding the pictures. The results showed that the appearance of the pictures did not interfere with target consolidation when the pictures were task-irrelevant, whereas such interference was observed when the pictures were associated with a 2-AFC task. Most importantly, however, the results showed no effects of whether the picture had neutral or emotional content. Implications for further research are discussed.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftPLoS ONE
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
StatusPublished - 19-jan-2017

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