The effects of negative emotion on encoding-related neural activity predicting item and source recognition

Yee Ying Yick, Luciano Grudtner Buratto, Alexandre Rene Schaefer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    We report here a study that obtained reliable effects of emotional modulation of a well-known index of memory encoding - the electrophysiological Dm effect - using a recognition memory paradigm followed by a source memory task. In this study, participants performed an old-new recognition test of emotionally negative and neutral pictures encoded 1 day before the test, and a source memory task involving the retrieval of the temporal context in which pictures had been encoded. Our results showed that Dm activity was enhanced for all emotional items on a late positivity starting at 400. ms post-stimulus onset, although Dm activity for high arousal items was also enhanced at an earlier stage (200-400. ms). Our results also showed that emotion enhanced Dm activity for items that were both recognised with or without correct source information. Further, when only high arousal items were considered, larger Dm amplitudes were observed if source memory was accurate. Three main conclusions are drawn from these findings. First, negative emotion can enhance encoding processes predicting the subsequent recognition of central item information. Second, if emotion reaches high levels of arousal, the encoding of contextual details can also be enhanced over and above the effects of emotion on central item encoding. Third, the morphology of our ERPs is consistent with a hybrid model of the role of attention in emotion-enhanced memory (Pottage and Schaefer, 2012).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)48 - 59
    Number of pages12
    Issue numberJuly 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Cite this