Low Arousal Positive Emotional Stimuli Attenuate Aberrant Working Memory Processing in Persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Lucas S. Broster, Shonna L. Jenkins, Sarah D. Holmes, Gregory A. Jicha, Yang Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Emotional enhancement effects on memory have been reported to mitigate the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, relative to their manifestation in persons without pathologic aging, these effects may be reduced in magnitude or even deleterious, especially in tasks that more closely model ecologic memory performance. Based upon a synthesis of such reports, we hypothesized that in persons with AD low arousal positive stimuli would evoke relatively intact emotional enhancement effects, but that high arousal negative stimuli would evoke disordered emotional enhancement effects. To assess this, participants with and without mild cognitive impairment (MCI) presumed to be due to AD performed an emotionally-valenced short-term memory task while encephalography was recorded. Results indicated that for persons with MCI, high arousal negative stimuli led to working memory processing patterns previously associated with MCI presumed due to AD and dementia of the Alzheimer-type. In contrast, low arousal positive stimuli evoked a processing pattern similar to MCI participants' unaffected spouses. Our current findings suggest that low arousal positive stimuli attenuate working memory deficits of MCI due to AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1333-1349
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This experiment excluded individuals taking certain categories of psychoactive drugs, but individuals with mild cognitive impairment were uniformly taking donepezil or rivastigmine as part of their regular medical regimen as treatment for the changes to their memory and thinking [102]. These medications have known effects on ERP waveforms, so a subset of group differences identified in this study could be attributable to such differences [103, 104]. Because the differences in ERPs in this experiment were associated with interactions between experimental conditions and groups, the relevance of this issue to the main findings of this manuscript is limited. However, care should be exercised in the We would like to thank P. Lang and A. Keil for providing advice related to potential considerations in stimulus selection and categorization and J. Dien for ongoing assistance in appropriate use of the ERP PCA Toolkit. We would like to thank F. Schmitt, R. Kryscio, E. Abner, and the University of Kentucky Alzheimer Disease Center (UK-ADC) for their help with the compilation of the neuropsychological test results. We would like to thank M. Mather and two anonymous reviewers for helpful recommendations and criticisms during review. This work was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (5 T32 AG 242-18; P30 AG028383; UL1RR033173; UL1TR000117).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.


  • Affective cognition
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • emotional enhancement effects
  • event-related potentials
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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