The Effect of State Anxiety on Emotional Associative Binding.
- Abstract: Research has consistently demonstrated a memorial advantage for emotionally-salient information. It has been suggested that this enhanced recollection of emotional items leads to disruptions in the binding of peripheral information. Little is known however about how emotional states like anxiety may impact binding of emotional material, despite its practically important relevance to our ... read moreunderstanding of binding disruptions in areas including flashbulb memory, eye witness testimony, and anxiety and mood disorders. We hypothesized that a state of anxiety would magnify the extent to which negative stimuli impact recognition of items (cues) and recollection of their context (targets). One hundred and three participants (18-26 years old, 52% female) were exposed to a psychosocial stressor (Trier Social Stress Test) or a control version, after which they performed an associative binding memory task. This included an old/new recognition test of emotional cues and a cued recall test of their neutral counterparts. Heart rate, skin conductance level, and self-report data were additionally collected to index anxiety levels. Participants displayed enhanced recognition of negative cues, as well as disruptions in binding these cues with their neutral counterparts. However, results yielded no significant group difference of anxiety to have persisted during the memory task, indicating that the experimental manipulation did not have the desired effect. Future directions are discussed to elucidate causes of underlying memory performance.read less