2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

The Effect of Negative Emotion on Working Memory
Christopher R. Honts* and Timothy J. Wittmann
Dr. David B. Conner, Faculty Mentor

In this study we investigated negative moods impact on undergraduates' cognitive performance (N = 105). Existing research posits that negative ruminations associated with worry and ruminative depression activates left hemispheric regions involved in verbal working memory processing (e.g., Jahanshahi et al., 1998). We hypothesized that: (1) worry and depressed mood would impair working memory performance on a task shown to utilize left hemispheric areas over right-sided ones; (2) task performance would not be affected if the task places demands on the brain's right hemisphere; (3) disruptive thoughts would mediate observed performance deficits. Participants were induced into neutral, anxious, or depressive moods and then given verbal and visuospatial working memory tasks. These hypotheses were partially supported but mood state was not predictive of task performance as expected. However, a post hoc analysis found results sparking additional methodological questions which are being addressed in a continuation and extension of the current study.

Keywords: Cognition, Working Memory, Emotion, Brain

Topic(s):Psychology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 13-3
Location: OP Lobby
Time: 4:15

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