Emotion processing facilitates working memory performance

B R Lindström, G Bohlin: Emotion processing facilitates working memory performance. In: Cognition & Emotion, 25 (7), pp. 1196–1204, 2011, ISSN: 0269-9931.


The effect of emotional stimulus content on working memory performance has been investigated with conflicting results, as both emotion-dependent facilitation and impairments are reported in the literature. To clarify this issue, 52 adult participants performed a modified visual 2-back task with highly arousing positive stimuli (sexual scenes), highly arousing negative stimuli (violent death) and low-arousal neutral stimuli. Emotional stimulus processing was found to facilitate task performance relative to that of neutral stimuli, both in regards to response accuracy and reaction times. No emotion-dependent differences in false-alarm rates were found. These results indicate that emotional information can have a facilitating effect on working memory maintenance and processing of information.