Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Stage effects of negative emotion on spatial and verbal working memory

Xuebing Li12, Raymond CK Chan12 and Yue-jia Luo3*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

2 Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

3 State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:60  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-60

Published: 7 May 2010

Abstract

Background

The effects of negative emotion on different processing periods in spatial and verbal working memory (WM) and the possible brain mechanism of the interaction between negative emotion and WM were explored using a high-time resolution event-related potential (ERP) technique and time-locked delayed matching-to-sample task (DMST).

Results

Early P3b and late P3b were reduced in the negative emotion condition for both the spatial and verbal tasks at encoding. At retention, the sustained negative slow wave (NSW) showed a significant interaction between emotional state and task type. Spatial trials in the negative emotion condition elicited a more negative deflection than they did in the neutral emotion condition. However, no such effect was observed for the verbal tasks. At retrieval, early P3b and late P3b were markedly more attenuated in the negative emotion condition than in the neutral emotion condition for both the spatial and verbal tasks.

Conclusions

The results indicate that the differential effects of negative emotion on spatial and verbal WM mainly take place during information maintenance processing, which implies that there is a systematic association between specific affects (e.g., negative emotion) and certain cognitive processes (e.g., spatial retention).