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Changing interpretations of emotional expressions in working memory with aging

Mok, RM; Hajonides van der Meulen, JE; Holmes, EA; Nobre, AC; (2017) Changing interpretations of emotional expressions in working memory with aging. PsyArXiv Preprints Green open access

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Abstract

Working memory (WM) shows significant decline with age. It is interesting to note that some research has suggested age-related impairments can be reduced in tasks that involve emotion-laden stimuli. However, only a few studies have explored how WM for emotional material changes in aging. Here we developed a novel experimental task to compare and contrast how emotional material is represented in older versus younger adults. The task enabled us to separate overall WM accuracy from emotional biases in the content of affective representations in WM. We found that, in addition to overall decline in WM performance, older adults showed a systematic positivity bias in representing information in WM relative to younger adults (positivity effect). They remembered fearful faces as being less fearful than younger adults and interpreted ambiguous facial expressions more positively. The findings show that aging brings a type of positivity bias when picking up affective information for guiding future behaviour.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Changing interpretations of emotional expressions in working memory with aging
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/T9S54
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/t9s54
Language: English
Additional information: © The Authors 2017. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Emotion, working memory, aging, positivity bias, facial expressions
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052157
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