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Neural Correlates of Externally and Internally Originating Emotional Distraction Effects on Memory

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Published on May 30, 2013

Neural Correlates of Externally and Internally Originating Emotional Distraction Effects on Working Memory

Alexandru D. Iordan

Balanced emotion-cognition interactions are critical for healthy functioning. Clinical studies suggest that symptoms of impaired executive control and enhanced emotional distractibility observed in affective disorders are linked to dysfunctional interactions between a dorsal executive system and a ventral emotional system. Recent studies investigating the neural correlates of working memory interference by emotional distraction have provided evidence that interactions between these two systems can also occur transiently, in response to on-going task irrelevant emotional distracters. However, these previous investigations have used negative external distracters, such as high-arousing unpleasant pictures, and hence it is not known whether similar effects are produced by distracters with different characteristics, such as positive distracters, or distracters originating from 'within the individual', more similar to the distressing thoughts that occur in clinical patients. These issues have been addressed in two experiments part of an on-going investigation of the neural circuitries linking the enhancing and impairing effects of emotion on memory. Preliminary results suggest that the opposing pattern of activity in response to emotional distraction in the dorsal and ventral brain regions (decreased vs. increased) is mainly sensitive to emotional arousal rather than to emotional valence and it is similar for distracters originating in the external and internal environments.

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