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Journal Article

Enhancing Retention Through Reconsolidation: Negative Emotional Arousal Following Retrieval Enhances Later Recall

Bridgid Finn and Henry L. Roediger III
Psychological Science
Vol. 22, No. 6 (JUNE 2011), pp. 781-786
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25835452
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Enhancing Retention Through Reconsolidation: Negative Emotional Arousal Following Retrieval Enhances Later Recall
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Abstract

When information is retrieved from memory, it enters a labile state rendering it amenable to change. This process of reconsolidation may explain, in part, the benefits that are observed in later retention following retrieval of information on an initial test. We examined whether the benefits of retrieval could be modulated by an emotional event occurring after retrieval. Participants studied Swahili-English vocabulary pairs. On a subsequent cued-recall test, each retrieval was followed by a blank screen, a neutral picture, or a picture inducing negative affect. Performance on a final cued-recall test was best for items whose initial retrieval was followed by negative pictures. This outcome occurred when a negative picture was presented immediately after (Experiment 1) or 2 s after (Experiment 2) successful retrieval, but not when it was presented after restudy of the vocabulary pair (Experiment 3). Postretrieval reconsolidation via emotional processing may enhance the usual positive effects of retrieval.

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