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1.  Disgust Enhances the Recollection of Negative Emotional Images 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26571.
Memory is typically better for emotional relative to neutral images, an effect generally considered to be mediated by arousal. However, this explanation cannot explain the full pattern of findings in the literature. Two experiments are reported that investigate the differential effects of categorical affective states upon emotional memory and the contributions of stimulus dimensions other than pleasantness and arousal to any memory advantage. In Experiment 1, disgusting images were better remembered than equally unpleasant frightening ones, despite the disgusting images being less arousing. In Experiment 2, regression analyses identified affective impact – a factor shown previously to influence the allocation of visual attention and amygdala response to negative emotional images – as the strongest predictor of remembering. These findings raise significant issues that the arousal account of emotional memory cannot readily address. The term impact refers to an undifferentiated emotional response to a stimulus, without requiring detailed consideration of specific dimensions of image content. We argue that ratings of impact relate to how the self is affected. The present data call for further consideration of the theoretical specifications of the mechanisms that lead to enhanced memory for emotional stimuli and their neural substrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026571
PMCID: PMC3217922  PMID: 22110588
2.  Exploring the basis and boundary conditions of SenseCam-facilitated recollection 
Memory (Hove, England)  2011;19(7):758-767.
SenseCam review has been shown to promote and sustain subsequent access to memories that might otherwise remain inaccessible. While SenseCam review facilitates recollection for personally experienced events, we know little about the boundary conditions under which this operates and about how underlying processing mechanisms can be optimally recruited to offset memory impairments of the sort that occur in dementia. This paper considers some of these issues with a view to targeting future research that not only clarifies our evolving body of theory about how memory works, but also informs about how memory-assistive technologies for patients might be employed to maximal effect. We begin by outlining key factors that are known to influence recollection. We then examine variability in the decline of memory function both in normal ageing and in dementia. Attention is drawn to similarities in the recollection deficits associated with depression and dementia, and we suggest that this may reflect shared underlying mechanisms. We conclude by discussing how one particular theoretical rationale can be intersected with key SenseCam capabilities to define priorities for ongoing and future SenseCam research.
doi:10.1080/09658211.2010.533180
PMCID: PMC3534351  PMID: 21995710
SenseCam; Recollection; Dementia; Depression
3.  Recognition memory for pictorial material in subclinical depression 
Acta Psychologica  2010;135(3):293-301.
Depression has been associated with impaired recollection of episodic details in tests of recognition memory that use verbal material. In two experiments, the remember/know procedure was employed to investigate the effects of dysphoric mood on recognition memory for pictorial materials that may not be subject to the same processing limitations found for verbal materials in depression. In Experiment 1, where the recognition test took place two weeks after encoding, subclinically depressed participants reported fewer know judgements which were likely to be at least partly due to a remember-to-know shift. Although pictures were accompanied by negative or neutral captions at encoding, no effect of captions on recognition memory was observed. In Experiment 2, where the recognition test occurred soon after viewing the pictures, subclinically depressed participants reported fewer remember judgements. All participants reported more remember judgements for pictures of emotionally negative content than pictures of neutral content. Together, these findings demonstrate that recognition memory for pictorial stimuli is compromised in dysphoric individuals in a way that is consistent with a recollection deficit for episodic detail and also reminiscent of that previously reported for verbal materials. These findings contribute to our developing understanding of how mood and memory interact.
doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.07.015
PMCID: PMC2994638  PMID: 20728865
Depression; Memory; Emotion; Recollection; Familiarity
4.  The amygdala response to images with impact 
Effective photojournalism provokes an emotional reaction and leaves a lasting impression upon the viewer. Striking and memorable images are often said to possess ’impact’. Within cognitive neuroscience memorable emotional images evoke a greater amygdala response. Research to date has focused on arousal as a causative factor, while the contribution of appraisal dimensions relating to salience of an item, goal relevance, or impact are yet to be addressed. We explored how differences in ratings of impact influenced amygdala activity to negative emotional images matched for valence, arousal and other factors. Increased amygdala activation was found to high impact when compared to neutral images, or high impact when compared to low impact images (matched for arousal). Our findings demonstrate that the amygdala response to emotional stimuli is not a function of arousal (or valence) alone and accord more with the proposal that the amygdala responds to the significance or relevance of an event.
doi:10.1093/scan/nsn048
PMCID: PMC2686226  PMID: 19151376
Emotion; Arousal; Attention; Appraisal; fMRI
5.  Emotional Complexity and the Neural Representation of Emotion in Motion 
According to theories of emotional complexity, individuals low in emotional complexity encode and represent emotions in visceral or action-oriented terms, whereas individuals high in emotional complexity encode and represent emotions in a differentiated way, using multiple emotion concepts. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, participants viewed valenced animated scenarios of simple ball-like figures attending either to social or spatial aspects of the interactions. Participant’s emotional complexity was assessed using the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale. We found a distributed set of brain regions previously implicated in processing emotion from facial, vocal and bodily cues, in processing social intentions, and in emotional response, were sensitive to emotion conveyed by motion alone. Attention to social meaning amplified the influence of emotion in a subset of these regions. Critically, increased emotional complexity correlated with enhanced processing in a left temporal polar region implicated in detailed semantic knowledge; with a diminished effect of social attention; and with increased differentiation of brain activity between films of differing valence. Decreased emotional complexity was associated with increased activity in regions of pre-motor cortex. Thus, neural coding of emotion in semantic vs action systems varies as a function of emotional complexity, helping reconcile puzzling inconsistencies in neuropsychological investigations of emotion recognition.
doi:10.1093/scan/nsq021
PMCID: PMC3023086  PMID: 20207691
animacy; embodiment; emotion; empathy; functional magnetic resonance imaging
6.  Assessing the automaticity of moral processing: Efficient coding of moral information during narrative comprehension 
A long-standing theoretical debate concerns the involvement of principled reasoning versus relatively automatic intuitive-emotional processing in moral cognition. To address this, we investigated whether the mental models formed during story comprehension contain a moral dimension and whether this process is affected by cognitive load. A total of 72 participants read stories about fictional characters in a range of moral situations, such as a husband being tempted to commit adultery. Each story concluded with a “moral” or “immoral” target sentence. Consistent with a framework of efficient extraction of moral information, participants took significantly longer to read immoral than moral target sentences. Moreover, the magnitude of this effect was not compromised by cognitive load. Our findings provide evidence of efficient coding of moral dimensions during narrative comprehension and demonstrate that this process does not require cognitively intense forms of principled reasoning.
doi:10.1080/17470210802254441
PMCID: PMC2645138  PMID: 18720279
Moral cognition; Mental models; Efficiency; Automaticity; Cognitive effort
7.  Depression and attention to two kinds of meaning: A cognitive perspective 
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy  2010;23(3):248-262.
The complexity of a mental disorder such as depression is such that a way of interlinking the neural, mental and interpersonal levels is needed. This paper proposes that a theoretical framework which distinguishes, and relates, macro-theory and micro-theory at these levels can serve this purpose. The ‘Interacting Cognitive Subsystems’ approach to mental architecture is used to show how, via the detailed specification of mental processes and representations, a macro-theory of mental architecture contributes to our understanding of depressed states. In the account advanced by Teasdale and Barnard depressed states are seen as being maintained by an abnormal version of a dynamic dialogue between two qualitatively distinct types of meaning: one is referentially specific, propositional meaning, the other consists of holistic schemata rich in latent content and is called implicational meaning. In depressed states with ruminative and avoidant thought patterns, the mental function of attention is seen as being directed preferentially at propositional meanings. There is a corresponding neglect of attention to implicational meanings. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of how this approach can address transdiagnostic issues and how it may suggest new strategies for therapeutic interventions.
doi:10.1080/02668730903227123
PMCID: PMC3063505  PMID: 21442025
depression; meaning; attention; macro-theory; Interacting Cognitive Subsystems
8.  SenseCam, imagery and bias in memory for wellbeing 
Memory (Hove, England)  2011;19(7):768-777.
Identifying and modifying the negative interpretation bias that characterises depression is central to successful treatment. While accumulating evidence indicates that mental imagery is particularly effective in the modification of emotional bias, this research typically incorporates static and unrelated ambiguous stimuli. SenseCam technology, and the resulting video-like footage, offers an opportunity to produce training stimuli that are dynamic and self-relevant. Here participants experienced several ambiguous tasks and subsequently viewed SenseCam footage of the same tasks, paired with negative or positive captions. Participants were trained to use mental imagery to inter-relate SenseCam footage and captions. Participants reported increased levels of happy mood, reduced levels of sad mood, and increased task enjoyment following SenseCam review with positive versus negative captions. This shift in emotional bias was also evident at 24-hour follow-up, as participants recollected greater task enjoyment for those tasks previously paired with positive captions. Mental imagery appears to play an important role in this process. These preliminary results indicate that in healthy volunteers, SenseCam can be used within a bias modification paradigm to shift mood and memory for wellbeing associated with performing everyday activities. Further refinements are necessary before similar methods can be applied to individuals suffering from subclinical and clinical depression.
doi:10.1080/09658211.2010.551130
PMCID: PMC3534350  PMID: 21416451
SenseCam; Cognitive bias modification; Emotion; Mental imagery

Results 1-8 (8)