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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02556

Role of emotional appraisal in episodic memory in a sample of Argentinean preschoolers

  • 1Unit of Applied Neurobiology, Center for Medical Education and Clinical Research Norberto Quirno (CEMIC), Argentina
  • 2Faculty of Psychology, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Emotional processing and episodic memory are closely related throughout childhood development. With respect to emotional episodic memory, available evidence shows that the consolidation of information is accompanied by an arousal that generates longer duration and persistence of the memory representations. In the case of early stages of development (i.e., first 5 years), it is less clear how these associations emerge and are modulated by individual and environmental factors. In this study, 116 4- to 5-years old Argentinean children from different socio-environmental contexts (i.e., favorable or unfavorable living conditions at home), performed a task of visual emotional memory in which they observed a set of 15 images with variable emotional valences (negative, neutral, and positive). The child’s task was to appraise each image using one of the following three possible valences: (a) drawings of faces with smiles (positive valence), (b) drawings of faces with tears and round mouth with edges down (negative valence), or (c) drawings of faces with horizontal mouth (neutral valence). Five years-old children exhibited greater accuracy appraisal. Individual differences in emotional accuracy appraisal allowed us to observe different performances in free recall of negative visual images. Accuracy appraisal did not vary between children with respect to gender, living conditions at home, or language ability. Seven to ten days after the emotional appraisal children were asked to tell the experimenter all the images they remembered (variables of interest: free recall of negative, positive, or neutral images). Results showed individual (age) differences. Specifically, 5-years-old children evoked more images than 4-years-old children. These findings contribute to the understanding of emotional memory in early developmental stages and raise the need to include emotional appraisal in the assessment of episodic memory.

Keywords: Emotions, episodic memory, appraisal, individual differences, preschoolers

Received: 31 Oct 2018; Accepted: 29 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Ruetti, Segretin, Ramírez and Lipina. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Eliana Ruetti, Unit of Applied Neurobiology, Center for Medical Education and Clinical Research Norberto Quirno (CEMIC), Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, elianaruetti@gmail.com