September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Trading Capacity for Precision in Working Memory: Reviving the Effect of Negative Emotion on Working Memory
Author Affiliations
  • Yang Guo
    Zhejiang University
  • Zaifeng Gao
    Zhejiang University
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2538. doi:
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      Yang Guo, Zaifeng Gao; Trading Capacity for Precision in Working Memory: Reviving the Effect of Negative Emotion on Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2538.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Working memory (WM) stores and manipulates a limited set of information for ongoing tasks, playing a critical role in our daily life. How the emotion affects WM has long been the interest of researchers. Recently it has been debated about whether negative emotion boosts the precision with which information being stored in WM: While initial studies supported this view, recent studies did not find positive evidence. The current study addressed this issue by using a color-recalling WM task at two different universities, which had different economic statuses. Participants were first presented a negative or neutral picture, then performed the WM task. In two experiments, in line with recent studies we found that the negative emotion did not affect the WM capacity or precision regardless of economic statuses. However, we consistently found that the precision difference between the two emotional conditions was negatively correlated with the capacity difference between the two emotional states: The higher degree the negative emotion impaired WM capacity, the larger degree the negative emotion boots WM precision. This finding suggests that the negative emotion indeed induces a trade-off between WM capacity and precision, and reconciles previous contradictory results.


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