Physical and Emotional Arousal and Their Effects on Retroactive Memory Enhancement: Gender Matters

Petras, Edgar
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University of Delaware
There is evidence that emotional events hold a special place in memory and may affect consolidation of neutral events that surround it. This effect has shown to be both an inhibiting factor for neutral events that precede emotional ones, and, more recently, an enhancing factor for those events. This effect has been coined retroactive memory enhancement (RME). In addition, it has been shown that physical arousal also plays a similar part in memory. In order to try to mesh these findings, the current study examined the effect that physical arousal has on memories formed prior to exercise by having subjects associate names with shapes and undergo moderate exercise. Memory was assessed after a 24 hour delay. Though no main effects were seen, a significant correlation between change in heart rate during exercise and scores on the memory test arose. In a follow up experiment studying the effect of emotional stimuli on RME, the same gender differences arose, with females appearing to be more susceptible to the effects of emotional manipulation.
emotional arousal , retroactive memory enhancement , physical exercise