Women using hormonal contraceptives show increased valence ratings and memory performance for emotional information.
ABSTRACT: Perception of emotional valence and emotional memory performance vary across the menstrual cycle. However, the consequences of altered ovarian hormone levels due to the intake of hormonal contraceptives on these emotional and cognitive processes remain to be established. In the present study, which included 2169 healthy young females, we show that hormonal contraceptives (HC) users rated emotional pictures as more emotional than HC-non-users and outperformed non-users in terms of better memory recall of emotional pictures. The observed association between HC-status and memory performance was partially mediated by the perception of emotional picture valence, indicating that increased valence ratings of emotional pictures in HC-users led to their better emotional memory performance. These findings extend the knowledge about the relation of HC-intake with emotional valence perception and emotional memory performance. Further, the findings might stimulate further research investigating the interrelation of enhanced memory for emotional events and the increased risk for anxiety-related psychiatric disorders in women.
Project description:Remembering places in which emotional events occur is essential for individual's survival. However, the mechanisms through which emotions modulate information processing in working memory, especially in the visuo-spatial domain, is little understood and controversial. The present research was aimed at investigating the effect of incidentally learned emotional stimuli on visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM) performance by using a modified version of the object-location task. Eight black rectangles appeared simultaneously on a computer screen; this was immediately followed by the sequential presentation of eight pictures (selected from IAPS) superimposed onto each rectangle. Pictures were selected considering the two main dimensions of emotions: valence and arousal. Immediately after presentation, participants had to relocate the rectangles in the original position as accurately as possible. In the first experiment arousal and valence were manipulated either as between-subject (Experiment 1A) or as within-subject factors (Experiment 1B and 1C). Results showed that negative pictures enhanced memory for object location only when they were presented with neutral ones within the same encoding trial. This enhancing effect of emotion on memory for object location was replicated also with positive pictures. In Experiment 2 the arousal level of negative pictures was manipulated between-subjects (high vs. low) while maintaining valence as a within-subject factor (negative vs. neutral). Objects associated with negative pictures were better relocated, independently of arousal. In Experiment 3 the role of emotional valence was further ascertained by manipulating valence as a within-subject factor (neutral vs. negative in Experiment 3A; neutral vs. positive in Experiment 3B) and maintaining similar levels of arousal among pictures. A significant effect of valence on memory for location was observed in both experiments. Finally, in Experiment 4, when positive and negative pictures were encoded in the same trial, no significant effect of valence on memory for object location was observed. Taken together results suggest that emotions enhance spatial memory performance when neutral and emotional stimuli compete with one another for access into the working memory system. In this competitive mechanism, an interplay between valence and arousal seems to be at work.
Project description:Low self-referential thoughts are associated with better concentration, which leads to deeper encoding and increases learning and subsequent retrieval. There is evidence that being engaged in externally rather than internally focused tasks is related to low neural activity in the default mode network (DMN) promoting open mind and the deep elaboration of new information. Thus, reduced DMN activity should lead to enhanced concentration, comprehensive stimulus evaluation including emotional categorization, deeper stimulus processing, and better long-term retention over one whole week. In this fMRI study, we investigated brain activation preceding and during incidental encoding of emotional pictures and on subsequent recognition performance. During fMRI, 24 subjects were exposed to 80 pictures of different emotional valence and subsequently asked to complete an online recognition task one week later. Results indicate that neural activity within the medial temporal lobes during encoding predicts subsequent memory performance. Moreover, a low activity of the default mode network preceding incidental encoding leads to slightly better recognition performance independent of the emotional perception of a picture. The findings indicate that the suppression of internally-oriented thoughts leads to a more comprehensive and thorough evaluation of a stimulus and its emotional valence. Reduced activation of the DMN prior to stimulus onset is associated with deeper encoding and enhanced consolidation and retrieval performance even one week later. Even small prestimulus lapses of attention influence consolidation and subsequent recognition performance.
Project description:So far, little is known about the neurocognitive mechanisms associated with emotion effects on prospective memory (PM) performance. Thus, this study aimed at disentangling possible mechanisms for the effects of emotional valence of PM cues on the distinct phases composing PM by investigating event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants were engaged in an ongoing N-back task while being required to perform a PM task. The emotional valence of both the ongoing pictures and the PM cues was manipulated (pleasant, neutral, unpleasant). ERPs were recorded during the PM phases, such as encoding, maintenance, and retrieval of the intention. A recognition task including PM cues and ongoing stimuli was also performed at the end of the sessions. ERP results suggest that emotional PM cues not only trigger an automatic, bottom-up, capture of attention, but also boost a greater allocation of top-down processes. These processes seem to be recruited to hold attention toward the emotional stimuli and to retrieve the intention from memory, likely because of the motivational significance of the emotional stimuli. Moreover, pleasant PM cues seemed to modulate especially the prospective component, as revealed by changes in the amplitude of the ERP correlates of strategic monitoring as a function of the relevance of the valence for the PM task. Unpleasant pictures seemed to modulate especially the retrospective component, as revealed by the largest old/new effect being elicited by unpleasant PM pictures in the recognition task.
Project description:The idea that there is enhanced memory for negatively, emotionally charged pictures was examined. Performance was measured under rapid, serial visual presentation (RSVP) conditions in which, on every trial, a sequence of six photo-images was presented. Briefly after the offset of the sequence, two alternative images (a target and a foil) were presented and participants attempted to choose which image had occurred in the sequence. Images were of threatening and non-threatening cats and dogs. The target depicted either an animal expressing an emotion distinct from the other images, or the sequences contained only images depicting the same emotional valence. Enhanced memory was found for targets that differed in emotional valence from the other sequence images, compared to targets that expressed the same emotional valence. Further controls in stimulus selection were then introduced and the same emotional distinctiveness effect obtained. In ruling out possible visual and attentional accounts of the data, an informal dual route topic model is discussed. This places emphasis on how visual short-term memory reveals a sensitivity to the emotional content of the input as it unfolds over time. Items that present with a distinctive emotional content stand out in memory.
Project description:The use of hormonal therapies, including hormonal contraceptives (HC) and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have been shown to influence breast cancer (BC) risk. However, the variations of these effects among populations and ethnic groups are not completely documented, especially among Hispanic women. We evaluated the association between HC and premenopausal BC risk, and between HRT and postmenopausal BC risk in Mexican women. Data from a Mexican multi-center population-based case-control study ofwomen aged 35 to 69 years were analysed. A total of 1000 cases and 1074 matched controls were recruited between 2004 and 2007. Information on hormonal therapy was collected through a structured questionnaire. Results were analysed using conditional logistic regression models. Overall, HC were used by 422/891 (47.3%) premenopausal women and HRT was used by 220/1117 (19.7%) postmenopausal women. For HC, odds ratios (ORs) for BC were 1.11 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.82, 1.49) for current users and 1.68 (95% CI: 0.67, 4.21) for ever-users. No clear effect of duration of use was observed. For HRT, the OR for BC was significantly increased in ever users (OR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.01, 2.08). A non-significant increased risk was observed for combined estrogen/progestin, (OR = 1.85; 95% CI: 0.84, 4.07) whereas no effect was observed for the use of estrogen alone (OR = 1.14; 95% CI: 0.68, 1.91). Our results indicate that, HC had a non-significant effect on the risk of pre-menopausal BC, but suggested that injected contraceptives may slightly increase the risk, whereas HRT had a significant effect on post-menopausal BC in this population. This study provides new information about the effects of HC and HRT on BC risk in a Mexican population, which may be of relevance for the population of Latin America as a whole.
Project description:Relative to intentional memory encoding, which quickly declines in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), incidental memory for emotional stimuli appears to deteriorate more slowly. We hypothesised that tests of incidental emotional memory may inform on different aspects of cognitive decline in MCI and AD.Patients with MCI, AD and Healthy Controls (HC) were asked to attend to emotional pictures (i.e., positive and neutral) sequentially presented during an fMRI session. Attention was monitored behaviourally. A surprise post-scan recognition test was then administered.The groups remained attentive within the scanner. The post-scan recognition pattern was in the form of (HC = MCI)?> AD, with only the former group showing a clear benefit from emotional pictures. fMRI analysis of incidental encoding demonstrated clusters of activation in para-hippocampal regions and in the hippocampus in HC and MCI patients but not in AD patients. The pattern of activation observed in MCI patients tended to be greater than that found in HC.The results suggest that incidental emotional memory might offer a suitable platform to investigate, using behavioural and fMRI measures, subtle changes in the process of developing AD. These changes seem to differ from those found using standard episodic memory tests. The underpinnings of such differences and the potential clinical use of this methodology are discussed in depth.
Project description:Age-related memory decline has been proposed to result partially from impairments in memory consolidation over sleep. However, such decline may reflect a shift toward selective processing of positive information with age rather than impaired sleep-related mechanisms. In the present study, young and older adults viewed negative and neutral pictures or positive and neutral pictures and underwent a recognition test after sleep or wake. Subjective emotional reactivity and affect were also measured. Compared with waking, sleep preserved valence ratings and memory for positive but not negative pictures in older adults and negative but not positive pictures in young adults. In older adults, memory for positive pictures was associated with slow wave sleep. Furthermore, slow wave sleep predicted positive affect in older adults but was inversely related to positive affect in young adults. These relationships were strongest for older adults with high memory for positive pictures and young adults with high memory for negative pictures. Collectively, these results indicate preserved but selective sleep-dependent memory processing with healthy aging that may be biased to enhance emotional well-being.
Project description:This study examined the separate influence and joint influences on event-based prospective memory task performance due to the valence of cues and the valence of contexts. We manipulated the valence of cues and contexts with pictures from the International Affective Picture System. The participants, undergraduate students, showed higher performance when neutral compared to valenced pictures were used for cueing prospective memory. In addition, neutral pictures were more effective as cues when they occurred in a valenced context than in the context of neutral pictures, but the effectiveness of valenced cues did not vary across contexts that differed in valence. The finding of an interaction between cue and context valence indicates that their respective influence on event-based prospective memory task performance cannot be understood in isolation from each other. Our findings are not consistent with by the prevailing view which holds that the scope of attention is broadened and narrowed, respectively, by positively and negatively valenced stimuli. Instead, our findings are more supportive of the recent proposal that the scope of attention is determined by the motivational intensity associated with valenced stimuli. Consistent with this proposal, we speculate that the motivational intensity associated with different retrieval cues determines the scope of attention, that contexts with different valence values determine participants' task engagement, and that prospective memory task performance is determined jointly by attention scope and task engagement.
Project description:Various studies suggested alterations in pain perception in psychiatric disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) and major depression (MD). We previously investigated affective components of pain perception in BPD compared to healthy controls (HC) by increasing aversive stimulus intensities using repetitive peripheral magnetic stimulation (rPMS) and observed alterations in emotional rather than somatosensory components in BPD. However, conclusions on disorder specific alterations in these components of pain perception are often limited due to comorbid depression and medication in BPD. Here, we compared 10 patients with BPD and comorbid MD, 12 patients with MD without BPD, and 12 HC. We applied unpleasant somatosensory stimuli with increasing intensities by rPMS and assessed pain threshold (PT), cutaneous sensation, emotional valence, and arousal by a Self-Assessments Manikins scale. PTs in BPD were significantly higher compared to HC. The somatosensory discrimination of stimulus intensities did not differ between groups. Though elevated rPMS intensities led to increased subjective aversion and arousal in MD and HC, these emotional responses among intensity levels remained unchanged in BPD. Our data give further evidence for disorder-specific alterations in emotional components of pain perception in BPD with an absent emotional modulation among varying aversive intensity levels.
Project description:Affective hyper-reactivity and impaired cognitive control of emotional material are core features of borderline personality disorder (BPD). A high percentage of individuals with BPD experience stress-related dissociation, including emotional numbing and memory disruptions. So far little is known about how dissociation influences the neural processing of emotional material in the context of a working memory task in BPD. We aimed to investigate whole-brain activity and amygdala functional connectivity (FC) during an Emotional Working Memory Task (EWMT) after dissociation induction in un-medicated BPD patients compared to healthy controls (HC). Using script-driven imagery, dissociation was induced in 17 patients ('BPD_D'), while 12 patients ('BPD_N') and 18 HC were exposed to neutral scripts during fMRI. Afterwards, participants performed the EWMT with neutral vs. negative IAPS pictures vs. no distractors. Main outcome measures were behavioral performance (reaction times, errors) and whole-brain activity during the EWMT. Psychophysiological interaction analysis was used to examine amygdala connectivity during emotional distraction. BPD patients after dissociation induction showed overall WM impairments, a deactivation in bilateral amygdala, and lower activity in left cuneus, lingual gyrus, and posterior cingulate than BPD_N, along with stronger left inferior frontal gyrus activity than HC. Furthermore, reduced amygdala FC with fusiform gyrus and stronger amygdala FC with right middle/superior temporal gyrus and left inferior parietal lobule was observed in BPD_D. Findings suggest that dissociation affects reactivity to emotionally salient material and WM. Altered activity in areas associated with emotion processing, memory, and self-referential processes may contribute to dissociative states in BPD.