Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
Retrograde effects of emotion on memory for related events
And thanks to @BecketTodd for introducing me to another mentor, @DanielaJPalombo whose passion for science and students’ growth undoubtedly brightens up any room???? #GreatSupervisor #UBC
And thanks to @BecketTodd for introducing me to another mentor, @DanielaJPalombo whose passion for science and students' growth undoubtedly brightens up any room #GreatSupervisor #UBC
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Binding content together in memory (i.e., associative memory) is impaired by the presence of negative stimuli, limiting the contextualization of negative content in memory. Adults exposed to adverse childhood experiences show heightened emotional reactivity that may influence memory for emotional content. Here, we sought to elucidate whether adverse childhood experiences moderate the impairing effect of emotion on associative memory. As part of an online study, participants (N=700) self-reported exposure to childhood adversity. Participants were presented with images stratified by emotion (negative, neutral) alongside a paired image of a benign object. After a 24-hour delay, participants’ associative memory for image pairs was tested. A mixed linear model was used to test the hypothesis that greater exposure to adverse childhood experiences would be associated with poorer associative memory for negative images. Contrary to our prediction, exposure to adversity in childhood was not associated with poorer associative memory, regardless of the emotionality of the stimuli. Exploratory analyses revealed that current psychological well-being did not influence the pattern of results. These findings indicate that exposure to adverse experiences in childhood is not always related to one’s ability to bind content together in memory, at least as measured in the current study, contrary to prominent theories positing that disruption to associative memory drives mental health concerns associated with childhood adversity.
Our memories for temporal duration may be colored by the emotions we experience during an event. While emotion generally enhances memory, temporal duration has been shown to be particularly suspectable to emotion-induced inaccuracies. However, prior work has faced difficulty when studying this phenomenon, having to compromise on ecological validity or experimental control. Here, I sought to bridge this gap by studying the effects of emotion on temporal duration memory using virtual reality. In the present study, a final sample of N = 69 participants experienced a series of negative-emotional and neutral worlds within virtual reality. Following this, participants provided ratings of pleasantness, arousal, valence, and a retrospective duration estimate. I hypothesized that negative events would be recalled as having a greater duration and then neutral events. I additionally hypothesized that negative, but not neutral, events would be recalled as being longer than the true duration. The results supported the first hypothesis while going against the second. Therefore, we were able to replicate a long-standing finding while also observing a divergent result, which introduces nuance to this body of work. Together, the results contribute to a broader literature on the effects of emotion on temporal duration memory.
Memory for emotional stimuli (e.g., words, images) is typically enhanced, while the remembered duration of negative emotional experiences is overestimated. However, little is known about how emotion affects temporal order memory or how memory is influenced by an environmentally induced emotional state (without any overtly emotional occurrences). In the present study, a sample of N=595 participants was randomly divided into discovery (N=297) and replication (N=298) subsamples using a split-half cross-validation approach. Participants viewed a 15-minute video of a first-person virtual world experience which contains neutral test stimuli and induces diverse emotional responses. Participants then completed tests of item, temporal order, and duration memory, and rated emotion and arousal induced by the virtual world experience. I hypothesized that greater subjective arousal and negative emotion would be related to enhanced item memory, impaired temporal order memory, and longer duration estimates. A Partial Least Squares Correlation analysis produced one significant latent variable in both the discovery (p=.039) and replication samples (p<.001 revealing="" positive="" correlations="" between="" subjective="" threat="" and="" anxiety="" ratios="">1.96) and item and temporal order memory (p’s<.05 duration="" memory="" and="" bias="" did="" not="" contribute="" to="" this="" pattern.="" the="" replication="" sample="" yielded="" additional="" contributions="" of="" arousal="" fear="" latent="" variable.="" these="" findings="" demonstrate="" that="" an="" environmentally="" induced="" state="" negative="" emotion="" corresponds="" with="" enhanced="" memory.="">
Emotional events are often remembered better than neutral ones, however emotion can also spill over and affect our memory for neutral experiences that happened before an emotional event. Recently proposed theories suggest that emotion can retroactively enhance memory for preceding neutral events if they are deemed high priority, whilst impairing memory for those deemed low priority. However, the effects of the conceptual relationship between preceding neutral and emotional events on memory for the preceding information have yet to be investigated. Conceptual relatedness refers to the extent to which stimuli are connected either semantically or schematically. In this study, I investigated the effects of conceptual relatedness on the retroactive effects of emotion on memory. To do so, I used a unique paradigm where participants sequentially encoded pairs of images that were either related or unrelated. The first image was always neutral, whereas the second image was either negative or neutral. Participants then returned 24 hours later to complete a recognition memory assessment. Consistent with prior research on emotional memory, emotional images were remembered better than neutral images. Additionally, in support of our hypothesis, emotion enhanced memory for preceding images that were related, however it impaired memory for preceding images that were unrelated. These findings indicate that the effects of emotion on memory for preceding events are dependent on the conceptual relationship between them.