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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1992 Mar;18(2):379-90.

Remembering pictures: pleasure and arousal in memory.

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Health Science Center, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610.


Incidental memory performance for pictures that varied along the affective dimensions of pleasantness and arousal was assessed. For both an immediate and delayed (1 year later) free-recall task, only the arousal dimension had a stable effect on memory performance: Pictures rated as highly arousing were remembered better than low-arousal stimuli. This effect was corroborated in a speeded recognition test, in which high-arousal materials encoded earlier in the experiment produced faster reaction times than their low-arousal counterparts. Pleasantness affected reaction time decisions only for pictures not encoded earlier. These results suggest that whereas both the dimensions of pleasantness and arousal are processed at initial encoding, long-term memory performance is mainly affected by arousal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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