Publication Abstract Display
Type: Published Manuscript
Title: Curvilinear relationship between phonological working memory load and social-emotional modulation.
Authors: Mano QR, Brown GG, Bolden K, Aupperle R, Sullivan S, Paulus MP, Stein MB
Year: 2013
Publication: Cognition & Emotion
Volume: 27 Issue: 2 Pages: 283-304
Abstract:Accumulating evidence suggests that working memory load is an important factor for the interplay between cognitive and facial-affective processing. However, it is unclear how distraction caused by perception of faces interacts with load-related performance. We developed a modified version of the delayed match-to-sample task wherein task-irrelevant facial distracters were presented early in the rehearsal of pseudoword memoranda that varied incrementally in load size (1-syllable, 2-syllables, or 3-syllables). Facial distracters displayed happy, sad, or neutral expressions in Experiment 1 (N=60) and happy, fearful, or neutral expressions in Experiment 2 (N=29). Facial distracters significantly disrupted task performance in the intermediate load condition (2-syllable) but not in the low or high load conditions (1- and 3-syllables, respectively), an interaction replicated and generalised in Experiment 2. All facial distracters disrupted working memory in the intermediate load condition irrespective of valence, suggesting a primary and general effect of distraction caused by faces. However, sad and fearful faces tended to be less disruptive than happy faces, suggesting a secondary and specific valence effect. Working memory appears to be most vulnerable to social-emotional information at intermediate loads. At low loads, spare capacity is capable of accommodating the combinatorial load (1-syllable plus facial distracter), whereas high loads maximised capacity and deprived facial stimuli from occupying working memory slots to cause disruption.

return to publications listing