Professor, Gerontology and Psychology.
For many decades, research studies have indicated that emotional arousal can enhance memory for events experienced while experiencing the emotion. However, there is growing evidence that emotional arousal only selectively enhances memory and in fact impairs some aspects of memory. The canonical models of the brain mechanisms of emotional memory cannot account for these selectivity effects. In contrast, arousal-biased competition (ABC) theory accounts for both the impairing and the enhancing effects of arousal by positing that arousal biases competition to enhance high priority information and suppress low priority information (Mather & Sutherland, 2011). Priority is determined by both bottom-up salience and top-down goal relevance. In this talk, I present evidence of ABC effects in both attention and in memory. For instance, when shown a face and a place picture simultaneously, arousal induced via a conditioned tone leads participants to focus more on the more salient picture and fMRI results indicate enhanced processing of that picture and diminished processing of the other picture compared with non-arousing trials. Likewise, in initial encoding, arousal enhances short-term memory for high-contrast letters while impairing memory for low-contrast letters, revealing that arousal affects the encoding of high and low salience stimuli in opposite ways. Furthermore, during learning, tuning curves representing perceptually salient stimuli are sharpened whereas those representing non-salient stimuli are widened by concurrent arousal. The selective effects of arousal extend to long-term memory consolidation, as well. Manipulating the priority of neutral stimuli seen before an arousing stimulus determines whether long-term memory consolidation for those stimuli will be enhanced or impaired.
A reception in the CCN Commons, Room B250, Levine Science Research Center will follow the talk.
For more information about Dr. Mather, click here.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
04:30PM - 05:30PM
Love Auditorium, B101, Levine Science Research Center
This event is on campus.
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