Working Memory Performance under a Negative Affect Is More Susceptible to Higher Cognitive Workloads with Different Neural Haemodynamic Correlates

Ying Xing Feng, Masashi Kiguchi, Wei Chun Ung, Sarat Chandra Dass, Ahmad Fadzil Mohd Hani , Tong Boon Tang, Eric Tatt Wei Ho

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Abstract

The effect of stress on task performance is complex, too much or too little stress negatively affects performance and there exists an optimal level of stress to drive optimal performance. Task difficulty and external affective factors are distinct stressors that impact cognitive performance. Neuroimaging studies showed that mood affects working memory performance and the correlates are changes in haemodynamic activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). We investigate the interactive effects of affective states and working memory load (WML) on working memory task performance and haemodynamic activity using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging on the PFC of healthy participants. We seek to understand if haemodynamic responses could tell apart workload-related stress from situational stress arising from external affective distraction. We found that the haemodynamic changes towards affective stressor- and workload-related stress were more dominant in the medial and lateral PFC, respectively. Our study reveals distinct affective state-dependent modulations of haemodynamic activity with increasing WML in n-back tasks, which correlate with decreasing performance. The influence of a negative effect on performance is greater at higher WML, and haemodynamic activity showed evident changes in temporal, and both spatial and strength of activation differently with WML.
Original languageEnglish
Article number935
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Affective states
  • Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)
  • Haemodynamic activity
  • Prefrontal cortex (PFC)
  • Working memory performance
  • Workload stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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