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Emotion attribution and memory in the ageing brain

Schechtman Belham, Flávia; (2018) Emotion attribution and memory in the ageing brain. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Episodic memory is influenced by emotions and ageing. While emotional events elicit superior memory than neutral ones, older adults (OA) are better in shifting the valence of an episode to make it more positive. This thesis investigated the interaction between episodic memory, emotion and ageing using behavioural and event-related potentials measures. The first aim was to identify which steps in the memory process are affected by emotion and ageing. Experiment 1 showed that emotion influences encoding, and ageing influences retrieval. Experiment 2 showed that prestimulus encoding-related activity is influenced by the time available to process the upcoming emotional stimulus, suggesting that preparatory activity is a flexible, but effortful mechanism. The second aim was to use a novel evaluative conditioning procedure to investigate how neutral information acquires emotional valence and is encoded and retrieved by younger adults (YA) and OA. Participants created emotional or neutral sentences with neutral words and completed memory and likeability tasks. Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that spontaneous emotion attribution is influenced by personality traits and elicits stronger likeability changes than forced attribution. Experiments 5 and 6 showed that YA and OA can change their feelings about neutral information by attributing positive emotions. The likeability changes survive a one-week delay and are related to source memory for the attributed emotion. Experiment 7 showed that retrieval of positive emotions elicited brain activity usually related to imagery. In conclusion, emotion attribution and its relationship with memory are preserved in OA, being affected by spontaneity and individual differences. The link between likeability changes and memory may be related to the use of imagery. This thesis enhances the understanding of how episodic memory and its brain correlates are influenced by ageing when the to-be-retrieved information is intrinsically emotional or has acquired emotionality.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Emotion attribution and memory in the ageing brain
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10046945
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