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Title: Emotion attribution and memory in the ageing brain
Author: Schechtman Belham, Flávia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 6928
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Episodic memory is influenced by emotions and ageing. While emotional events elicit superior memory than neutral ones, older adults (OA) are better in shifting the valence of an episode to make it more positive. This thesis investigated the interaction between episodic memory, emotion and ageing using behavioural and event-related potentials measures. The first aim was to identify which steps in the memory process are affected by emotion and ageing. Experiment 1 showed that emotion influences encoding, and ageing influences retrieval. Experiment 2 showed that prestimulus encoding-related activity is influenced by the time available to process the upcoming emotional stimulus, suggesting that preparatory activity is a flexible, but effortful mechanism. The second aim was to use a novel evaluative conditioning procedure to investigate how neutral information acquires emotional valence and is encoded and retrieved by younger adults (YA) and OA. Participants created emotional or neutral sentences with neutral words and completed memory and likeability tasks. Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that spontaneous emotion attribution is influenced by personality traits and elicits stronger likeability changes than forced attribution. Experiments 5 and 6 showed that YA and OA can change their feelings about neutral information by attributing positive emotions. The likeability changes survive a one-week delay and are related to source memory for the attributed emotion. Experiment 7 showed that retrieval of positive emotions elicited brain activity usually related to imagery. In conclusion, emotion attribution and its relationship with memory are preserved in OA, being affected by spontaneity and individual differences. The link between likeability changes and memory may be related to the use of imagery. This thesis enhances the understanding of how episodic memory and its brain correlates are influenced by ageing when the to-be-retrieved information is intrinsically emotional or has acquired emotionality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available