Document Type




Format of Original

8 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Consciousness and Cognition

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2009.06.001


Moderate physiological or emotional arousal induced after learning modulates memory consolidation, helping to distinguish important memories from trivial ones. Yet, the contribution of subjective awareness or interpretation of arousal to this effect is uncertain. Alexithymia, which is an inability to describe or identify one’s emotional and arousal states even though physiological responses to arousal are intact, provides a tool to evaluate the role of arousal interpretation. Participants scoring high and low on alexithymia (N = 30 each) learned a list of 30 words, followed by immediate recall. Participants then saw either an arousing (oral surgery) or neutral video (tooth brushing). Memory was tested 24-h later. Physiological response to arousal was comparable between groups, but subjective response to arousal was impaired in high alexithymia. Yet, delayed word recognition was enhanced by arousal regardless of alexithymia status. Thus, subjective response to arousal, i.e., cognitive appraisal, was not necessary for memory modulation to occur.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Consciousness and Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 18, No. 3 (September 2009): 786-793. DOI. © 2009 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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