Dynamic adjustments in working memory in the face of affective interference

J. E. Witkin, A. P. Zanesco, E. Denkova, A. P. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive control, which allows for the selection and monitoring of goal-relevant behavior, is dynamically upregulated on the basis of moment-to-moment cognitive demands. One route by which these demands are registered by cognitive control systems is via the detection of response conflict. Yet working memory (WM) demands may similarly signal dynamic adjustments in cognitive control. In a delayed-recognition WM task, Jha and Kiyonaga (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 36(4), 1036–1042, 2010) demonstrated dynamic adjustments in cognitive control via manipulations of mnemonic load and delay-spanning cognitive interference. In the present study, we aimed to extend prior work by investigating whether affective interference may similarly upregulate cognitive control. In Experiment 1, participants (N = 89) completed a delayed-recognition WM task in which mnemonic load (memory load of one vs. two items) and delay-spanning affective interference (neutral vs. negative distractors) were manipulated in a factorial design. Consistent with Jha and Kiyonaga, the present results revealed that mnemonic load led to dynamic adjustments in cognitive control, as reflected by greater performance on trials preceded by high than by low load. In addition, we observed that affective interference could trigger dynamic adjustments in cognitive control, as evinced by higher performance on trials preceded by negative than by neutral distractors. These findings were subsequently confirmed in Experiment 2, which was a pre-registered replication study (N = 100). Thus, these results suggest that in addition to dynamic adjustments as a function of mnemonic load, affective interference, similar to cognitive interference (Jha & Kiyonaga Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 36(4), 1036–1042, 2010), may trigger dynamic adjustments in cognitive control during a WM task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-31
Number of pages16
JournalMemory and Cognition
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Cognitive control
  • Emotion
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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