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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2001 Sep;130(3):436-52.

Emotional modulation of cognitive control: approach-withdrawal states double-dissociate spatial from verbal two-back task performance.

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Psychology Department, Harvard University, USA.


Emotional states might selectively modulate components of cognitive control. To test this hypothesis, the author randomly assigned 152 undergraduates (equal numbers of men and women) to watch short videos intended to induce emotional states (approach, neutral, or withdrawal). Each video was followed by a computerized 2-back working memory task (spatial or verbal, equated for difficulty and appearance). Spatial 2-back performance was enhanced by a withdrawal state and impaired by an approach state; the opposite pattern held for verbal performance. The double dissociation held more strongly for participants who made more errors than average across conditions. The results suggest that approach-withdrawal states can have selective influences on components of cognitive control, possibly on a hemispheric basis. They support and extend several frameworks for conceptualizing emotion-cognition interactions.

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