To examine whether valence and arousal influence recognition memory during early automatic or during more sustained processes, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) of 21 women were recorded while they made old/new judgments in a continuous recognition task with pictures from the International Affective Picture System. The pictures were presented twice and differed in emotional valence and arousal. The P1 peak and four time windows were investigated: 200-300 ms, 300-400 ms, 400-600 ms, and 750-1000 ms after stimulus onset. There was a robust old/new effect starting in the 200-300 ms epoch and lasting all time windows. The valence effect was mainly present in the P1 peak and the 200-400 ms epoch, whereas the arousal effect was found in the 300-1000 ms epoch. Exploratory sLORETA analyses dissociated valence-dependent ventromedial prefrontal activity and arousal-dependent occipital activity in the 350-380 ms time window. Valence interacted with the 200-400 ms old/new effect at central and frontal sites. Arousal interacted with the 750-1000 ms old/new effect at posterior sites. It is concluded that valence influences fast recognition memory, while arousal may influence sustained encoding.

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Brain Research Protocols
Department of Psychology

van Strien, J., Langeslag, S., Strekalova, N., Gootjes, L., & Franken, I. (2009). Valence interacts with the early ERP old/new effect and arousal with the sustained ERP old/new effect for affective pictures. Brain Research Protocols, 1251(C), 223–235. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2008.11.027