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Emotion. 2008 Apr;8(2):256-66. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.8.2.256.

Emotion and working memory: evidence for domain-specific processes for affective maintenance.

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Department of Human Development, Cornell University, G60B Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401, USA.


Working memory is comprised of separable subsystems for visual and verbal information, but what if the information is affective? Does the maintenance of affective information rely on the same processes that maintain nonaffective information? The authors address this question using a novel delayed-response task developed to investigate the short-term maintenance of affective memoranda. Using selective interference methods the authors find that a secondary emotion-regulation task impaired affect intensity maintenance, whereas secondary cognitive tasks disrupted brightness intensity maintenance, but facilitated affect maintenance. Additionally, performance on the affect maintenance task depends on the valence of the maintained feeling, further supporting the domain-specific nature of the task. The importance of affect maintenance per se is further supported by demonstrating that the observed valence effects depend on a memory delay and are not evident with simultaneous presentation of stimuli. These findings suggest that the working memory system may include domain-specific components that are specialized for the maintenance of affective memoranda.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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