Emotion Processing Effects on Interference Resolution in Working Memory

Sara M. Levens, Elizabeth A. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The interaction between emotion and working memory maintenance, load, and performance has been investigated with mixed results. The effect of emotion on specific executive processes such as interference resolution, however, remains relatively unexplored. In this series of studies, we examine how emotion affects interference resolution processes within working memory by modifying the Recency-probes paradigm (Monsel, 1978) to include emotional and neutral stimuli. Reaction time differences were compared between interference and non-interference trials for neutral and emotional words (Studies 1 & 3) and pictures (Study 2). Our results indicate that trials using emotional stimuli show a relative decrease in interference compared with trials using neutral stimuli, suggesting facilitation of interference resolution in the former. Furthermore, both valence and arousal seem to interact to produce this facilitation effect. These findings suggest that emotion facilitates response selection amid interference in working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-280
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • emotion
  • interference resolution
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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