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Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
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Emotionally arousing stimuli are more memorable than neutral ones and arousal induced after learning enhances later retrieval. However, there is as yet little study of how stimulus qualities might interact with induced arousal and how individual differences might influence the modulation of memory. Thus, the present study examined the effect of arousal induced after learning on memory for words that varied in both arousal and valence quality, as well as the influence of three individual differences factors that are known to influence arousal response: emotional suppression, emotional reappraisal, and arousal predisposition. Seventy-six adults (57 female) viewed and rated 60 words that normatively ranged from high to low in arousal and valence. Ten minutes later, they viewed a 3-min comedic or neutral video clip. Arousal induced after learning enhanced 1-week delayed memory, spanning the lengthy task without preference for word type or serial position, contrasting with reports of arousal effects interacting with stimulus qualities. Importantly, being predisposed to arousal led to greater enhancement of long-term memory modulation, while the use of emotional reappraisal, which reduces arousal responding, inhibited the ability of arousal to induce memory enhancement. Thus, individual differences that influence arousal responding can contribute to or interfere with memory modulation.