Memory performance is usually impaired when participants have to encode information while performing a concurrent task. Recent studies using recall tasks have found that emotional items are more resistant to such cognitive depletion effects than non-emotional items. However, when recognition tasks are used, the same effect is more elusive as recent recognition studies have obtained contradictory results. In two experiments, we provide evidence that negative emotional content can reliably reduce the effects of cognitive depletion on recognition memory only if stimuli with high levels of emotional intensity are used. In particular, we found that recognition performance for realistic pictures was impaired by a secondary 3-back working memory task during encoding if stimuli were emotionally neutral or had moderate levels of negative emotionality. In contrast, when negative pictures with high levels of emotional intensity were used, the detrimental effects of the secondary task were significantly attenuated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)