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. These memories are often powerfully vivid; we can feel transported in time as we re-experience these affect- laden moments.11,19,21,22,41,54,60,113,122 To date, most research examining why memories of emotional events have a different profile than memories of neutral events has focused on influences that are exerted as information is initially learned, 54,69,87,88,119 and our prior cycl of grant funding focused on encoding processes as well. This research has revealed an interesting effect of affective valence: negative events are encoded with more sensory processing and positive information is encoded with more conceptual processing, even when the events are equally high in arousal.69,72,73,74,103,104,105 Although less is known about how affect influences retrieval, many influential models of memory conceive of retrieval as a process during which the processes of encoding are reactivated23,108,174. If true, then affective influences during encoding should have downstream effects on the types of retrieval processes engaged or on the types of retrieval cues that would be most effective. The proposed research addresses this possibility, examining how the affective content of information influences the cognitive and neural processes engaged during memory retrieval, giving particular consideration to the possibility that the processes engaged during retrieval will be influenced by those engaged during encoding.

Public Health Relevance

By addressing core questions with regard to emotion's effects on memory retrieval, the proposed research will provide insight into how memory operates within the emotional context of everyday life. This knowledge is important for a basic research understanding of memory and is relevant to 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
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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
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
Bowen, Holly J; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2017) Memory-related functional connectivity in visual processing regions varies by prior emotional context. Neuroreport 28:808-813
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

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