Aarhus University Seal

Emotional metacognition: stimulus valence modulates cardiac arousal and metamemory

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Emotion alters how we feel, see, and experience the world. In the domain of memory, the emotional valence and arousal of memorised stimuli can modulate both the acuity and content of episodic recall. However, no experiment has investigated whether arousal and valence also influence metacognition for memory (i.e. the process of self-monitoring memories). In a pre-registered study, we applied a novel psychophysiological design together with computational models of metacognition to assess the influence of stimulus valence and arousal on the sensitivity, bias, and efficiency of metamemory. To estimate the role of physiological arousal in mediating these effects, we recorded cardiac measures through pulse oximetry. We found that negative valence substantially decreased both memory performance and subjective confidence, in particular for low arousal words. Simultaneously, we found that emotional valence modulated both heart rate and heart-rate variability (HRV) during recognition memory. Exploratory trial-level analyses further revealed that subjective confidence was encoded in instantaneous heart-rate fluctuations and that this relationship was also modulated by emotional valence. Our results demonstrate that recognition memory and metacognition are influenced by the emotional valence of encoded items and that this correlation is in part related to cardiac activity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognition and Emotion
Pages (from-to)705-721
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
N. L., C. M. C. C., N. K. M., N. N., and M. A. are supported by a Lundbeckfonden Fellowship (under Grant [R272-2017-4345]), and the AIAS-COFUND II fellowship programme that is supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 (under Grant [754513]), and the Aarhus University Research Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • arousal, Emotion, heart rate variability, memory, metacognition

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 214817131