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Zaifeng Gao, Fangfang Qiu, Rende Shui, Shulin Chen, Mowei Shen; Negative Affect Impairs the Working Memory Capacity of Biological Motion. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):277. doi: 10.1167/16.12.277.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Biological motion (BM) broadly refers to the movements of animate entities. It contains abundant social information, therefore, recognizing and understanding biological motion is of great survival significance to human beings. A few recent studies have begun to reveal the underlying mechanisms of holding BM information in working memory, for instance, by showing that BM information is stored independently from color, shape, and location. However, no study so far has investigated the interaction between affect and holding BM in working memory. The current study explored this issue by exploring the impact of happy, neutral, and negative affect in holding BM in working memory. In Experiment 1, we required participants to remember 2-5 BM stimuli in a change-detection task after inducing different affective states. We found that working memory capacity of BM was significantly dropped in the negative affect condition than in the happy or neutral affect condition, and no difference was found between the latter two. The reduction of BM capacity led by the negative affect was further confirmed in Experiment 2, by using an EEG index of mu-suppression which could track the load of BM information stored in working memory. Finally, in Experiment 3 we examined whether negative affect would improve the precision of BM in working memory, and found that the BM precision was kept stable between neutral and negative affect. Taking together, the current study suggests that negative affect reduces working memory capacity of BM; yet the precision of BM in working memory was not affected.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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