Cognitive neuroscience research has greatly advanced our understanding of the cognitive and neural processes that underlie the successful encoding and retrieval of information. The bulk of this research, however, has been conducted with stimuli intentionally chosen to elicit no emotional responses. But in our daily lives, many experiences are infused with emotional importance and personal significance: We receive a compliment from a coworker, or we witness a car crash. The broad goal of the research proposed in this application is to examine how the emotional content of information affects the cognitive and neural processes engaged during memory formation. Individuals often claim to remember emotional events with tremendous detail. For example, nearly everyone claims to remember details such as where they were and what they were doing when J.F.K. was shot (Winograd &Killinger, 1983). There has been extensive debate, however, about whether these subjective reports correspond with the objective accuracy of emotional long-term memories. The proposed research will examine the effects of emotion on memory accuracy (Specific Aim 1) and, through a combination of behavioral testing and neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging) approaches will examine the cognitive (Specific Aim 2) and neural (Specific Aim 3) processes that underlie our memories for information with emotional relevance.

Public Health Relevance

By addressing core questions with regard to emotion's effect on memory, the proposed research will provide insight into how memory formation occurs within the emotional context of everyday life. This knowledge is likely to provide insight into the memory disorders and biases observed in affective disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
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Simmons, Janine M
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Boston College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Chestnut Hill
United States
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Ford, Jaclyn H; DiBiase, Haley D; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2018) Finding the good in the bad: age and event experience relate to the focus on positive aspects of a negative event. Cogn Emot 32:414-421
Ford, Jaclyn H; DiBiase, Haley D; Ryu, Ehri et al. (2018) It gets better with time: Enhancement of age-related positivity effect in the six months following a highly negative public event. Psychol Aging 33:419-424
Madan, Christopher R; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2018) Predicting age from cortical structure across the lifespan. Eur J Neurosci 47:399-416
Ford, Jaclyn H; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2018) Older adults use a prefrontal regulatory mechanism to reduce negative memory vividness of a highly emotional real-world event. Neuroreport 29:1129-1134
Ford, Jaclyn H; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2017) Prefrontally-mediated alterations in the retrieval of negative events: Links to memory vividness across the adult lifespan. Neuropsychologia 102:82-94
Ford, Jaclyn H; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2017) Age-Related Reversals in Neural Recruitment across Memory Retrieval Phases. J Neurosci 37:5172-5182
Waring, J D; Dimsdale-Zucker, H R; Flannery, S et al. (2017) Effects of mild cognitive impairment on emotional scene memory. Neuropsychologia 96:240-248
Madan, Christopher R; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2017) Age-related differences in the structural complexity of subcortical and ventricular structures. Neurobiol Aging 50:87-95
Bowen, Holly J; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2017) Recapitulation of emotional source context during memory retrieval. Cortex 91:142-156
Krendl, Anne C; Zucker, Halle R; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2017) Examining the effects of emotion regulation on the ERP response to highly negative social stigmas. Soc Neurosci 12:349-360

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