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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2013 Nov;106:56-65. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.07.015. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Sex and menstrual cycle phase at encoding influence emotional memory for gist and detail.

Author information

1
University of California, Irvine, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Electronic address: nielsens@uci.edu.

Abstract

Sex influences on emotional memory have received increasing interest over the past decade. However, only a subset of this previous work explored the influence of sex on memory for central information (gist) and peripheral detail in emotional versus neutral contexts. Here we examined the influence of sex and menstrual cycle phase at encoding on memory for either an emotional or neutral story, specifically with respect to the retention of gist and peripheral detail. Healthy naturally cycling women and men viewed a brief, narrated, three-phase story containing neutral or emotionally arousing elements. One week later, participants received a surprise free recall test for story elements. The results indicate that naturally cycling women in the luteal (high hormone) phase of the menstrual cycle at encoding show enhanced memory for peripheral details, but not gist, when in the emotional compared with neutral stories (p<.05). In contrast, naturally cycling women in the follicular (low hormone) phase of the menstrual cycle at encoding did not show enhanced memory for gist or peripheral details in the emotional compared with neutral stories. Men show enhanced memory for gist, but not peripheral details, in the emotional versus neutral stories (p<.05). In addition, these sex influences on memory cannot be attributed to differences in attention or arousal; luteal women, follicular women, and men performed similarly on measures of attention (fixation time percentage) and arousal (pupil diameter changes) during the most arousing phase of the emotional story. These findings suggest that sex and menstrual cycle phase at encoding influence long term memory for different types of emotional information.

KEYWORDS:

Detail; Emotional memory; Eye-tracking; Gist; Menstrual cycle; Sex differences

PMID:
23891713
PMCID:
PMC3851890
DOI:
10.1016/j.nlm.2013.07.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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