Spatial distancing reduces emotional arousal to reactivated memories.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Memories are able to update and adapt with new information about the world after they are reactivated. However, it is unknown whether the labile period following reactivation makes episodic memories more amenable to emotion regulation, an application that holds great clinical promise. Here, we investigated the efficacy of cognitive reappraisal to down regulate negative affect in response to reactivated memories. Healthy young adults (N = 119) rated the emotionality of negative pictures. After a partial reactivation of each picture 2 days later, participants voluntarily engaged in a spatial distancing regulation tactic by imagining the reactivated object extremely far away from them. Compared with no-regulation and no-reactivation controls, self-reported arousal for regulated pictures dropped significantly 2 days after the manipulation, despite no significant difference in memory accuracy or valence. These results open up a new line of work that capitalizes on reactivation-based lability to selectively alter enduring arousal responses to emotional memories.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Parikh, N; McGovern, B; LaBar, KS

Published Date

  • December 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1967 - 1973

PubMed ID

  • 31385205

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1531-5320

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1069-9384

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3758/s13423-019-01648-z


  • eng