Following an emotional experience, individuals are confronted with the persistence of ruminative thoughts which disturb the undertaking of other activities. In the present study we intended to provide an experimental test for the idea that experiencing a negative emotion triggers a ruminative process which drains Working Memory (WM) resources normally devoted to other tasks. Undergraduate participants of high vs. low WM capacity were administered the OSPAN test as a measure of availability of WM resources, preceding and following the presentation of negative emotional vs. neutral material. Rumination was assessed immediately after the second OSPAN session and at a 24-hour delay. Results showed that both the individual’s WM capacity and the emotional valence of the material influenced WM performance and the persistence of ruminative thoughts. Following the experimental induction, rumination mediated the relationship between the negative emotional state and the concomitant WM performance. Based on these results we argued that ruminative processes deplete WM resources, making them less available for concurrent tasks; in addition rumination tends to persist over time. These findings have implications for the theoretical modelling of the long-term effects of emotions in both daily-life and clinical contexts.

Negative emotional experiences arouse rumination and affect working memory capacity

CURCI, Antonietta;LANCIANO, TIZIANA;
2013-01-01

Abstract

Following an emotional experience, individuals are confronted with the persistence of ruminative thoughts which disturb the undertaking of other activities. In the present study we intended to provide an experimental test for the idea that experiencing a negative emotion triggers a ruminative process which drains Working Memory (WM) resources normally devoted to other tasks. Undergraduate participants of high vs. low WM capacity were administered the OSPAN test as a measure of availability of WM resources, preceding and following the presentation of negative emotional vs. neutral material. Rumination was assessed immediately after the second OSPAN session and at a 24-hour delay. Results showed that both the individual’s WM capacity and the emotional valence of the material influenced WM performance and the persistence of ruminative thoughts. Following the experimental induction, rumination mediated the relationship between the negative emotional state and the concomitant WM performance. Based on these results we argued that ruminative processes deplete WM resources, making them less available for concurrent tasks; in addition rumination tends to persist over time. These findings have implications for the theoretical modelling of the long-term effects of emotions in both daily-life and clinical contexts.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/72799
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