Emotional memory: Mechanisms of anticipation and attention Open Access

Hermes, Anne Rene (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/x059c745c?locale=en
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Abstract

Enhanced memory for emotional information is a widely studied phenomenon that pervades our lives and experiences. One mechanism that may enhance memory for emotional stimuli is the increased processing of and attention to emotionally salient information. Focusing attention on salient negative aspects of a stimulus has been related to subsequent memory performance, but this effect has not been widely studied in positive stimuli. The anticipation of emotion is another mechanism that may enhance memory for emotional stimuli. Research has shown that anticipatory neural activity predicts subsequent memory, but the effects of anticipation on memory-related encoding behaviors have not yet been investigated.

The current study used eye-tracking as a metric for attention during encoding in order to investigate the contribution of attention and anticipation to adults' memory for emotional images. Eye movements were recorded during the encoding of negative, positive, and neutral scenes. To manipulate emotion anticipation, half of the participants were presented with a cue indicating the emotional valence of the upcoming stimulus during encoding. Patterns of eye movement and attention were related to subsequent memory for the stimuli during a recognition task one week after encoding. The current study demonstrated that memory for negative and neutral scenes was related to the visual search of salient details. These results suggest that sustained processing of central details is an effective encoding mechanism for negative and neutral but not positive stimuli. The anticipation of negative stimuli was related to differences in the orienting of attention during encoding. Inconsistent with hypotheses, anticipation-related changes in encoding behavior were not related to memory. Future research should investigate relations between emotion anticipation and individual differences in affect and emotion regulation to evaluate how emotion anticipation affects memory through encoding processes such as attention.

Table of Contents

Introduction...................................................................................1

Attention as an Encoding Mechanism.......................................3

Effects of Attention on Emotional Memory................................4

Anticipatory Effects on Stimulus Processing and Memory.........7

Aims and Hypotheses.............................................................10

Method.........................................................................................12

Participants............................................................................12 Materials................................................................................13 Procedure..............................................................................16 Data Reduction......................................................................19 Statistical Analysis.................................................................20

Results.........................................................................................21

Valence and Arousal Ratings..................................................21

Visual Processing of Emotional Stimuli....................................22

Subsequent Memory..............................................................24 Encoding and Subsequent Memory........................................25 Summary................................................................................28

Discussion...................................................................................29

Mechanisms for the Encoding of Emotional Stimuli..................30

Emotion Anticipation and Encoding Processes........................33

Limitations and Future Directions............................................34 Conclusions..............................................................................36

References...................................................................................38

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