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Psychophysiology. 2009 Nov;46(6):1190-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2009.00868.x. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

The effects of valence and arousal on the neural activity leading to subsequent memory.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave.,Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA. mickley@bc.edu


This study examined how valence and arousal affect the processes linked to subsequent memory for emotional information. While undergoing an fMRI scan, participants viewed neutral pictures and emotional pictures varying by valence and arousal. After the scan, participants performed a recognition test. Subsequent memory for negative or high arousal information was associated with occipital and temporal activity, whereas memory for positive or low arousal information was associated with frontal activity. Regression analyses confirmed that for negative or high arousal items, temporal lobe activity was the strongest predictor of later memory whereas for positive or low arousal items, frontal activity corresponded most strongly with later memory. These results suggest that the types of encoding processes relating to memory (e.g., sensory vs. elaborative processing) can differ based on the affective qualities of emotional information.

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