Emotional interference-based forgetting in short-term memory

Journal article

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Publication Details

Subtitle: Cognitive inhibition of pleasant but not unpleasant biologically relevant distractors
Author list: García-Pacios J
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Publication year: 2015
Volume number: 6
Issue number: MAY, Article 582
Number of pages: 16
ISSN: 1664-1078
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Emotional stimuli automatically recruit attentional resources. Although
this usually brings more adaptive responses, it may suppose a
disadvantage when emotional information is task-irrelevant and should be
ignored. Previous studies have shown how emotional stimuli with a
negative content exert a greater interference than neutral stimuli
during a concurrent working memory (WM) task. However, the impact of
positively valenced stimuli as interference has not been addressed to
date. In three experiments and one re-analysis we explore the impact of
pleasant and unpleasant emotional distractors during WM maintenance. The
results suggest that our cognitive control can cope with the
interference posed by pleasant distractors as well as with the
interference posed by neutral stimuli. However, unpleasant distractors
are harder to control in the context of WM maintenance. As unpleasant
stimuli usually convey relevant information that we should not to
ignore, our executive control seems to be less able to reallocate
cognitive resources after unpleasant distraction.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45