Distinct parietal sites mediate the influences of mood, arousal, and their interaction on human recognition memory
The two dimensions of emotion, mood valence and arousal, have independent effects on recognition memory. At present, however, it is not clear how those effects are reflected in the human brain. Previous research in this area has generally dealt with memory for emotionally valenced or arousing stimuli, but the manner in which interacting mood and arousal states modulate responses in memory substrates remains poorly understood. We investigated memory for emotionally neutral items while independently manipulating mood valence and arousal state by means of music exposure. Four emotional conditions were created: positive mood/high arousal, positive mood/low arousal, negative mood/high arousal, and negative mood/low arousal. We observed distinct effects of mood valence and arousal in parietal substrates of recognition memory. Positive mood increased activity in ventral posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and orbitofrontal cortex, whereas arousal condition modulated activity in dorsal PPC and the posterior cingulate. An interaction between valence and arousal was observed in left ventral PPC, notably in a parietal area distinct from the those identified for the main effects, with a stronger effect of mood on recognition memory responses here under conditions of relative high versus low arousal. We interpreted the PPC activations in terms of the attention-to-memory hypothesis: Increased arousal may lead to increased top-down control of memory, and hence dorsal PPC activation, whereas positive mood valence may result in increased activity in ventral PPC regions associated with bottom-up attention to memory. These findings indicate that distinct parietal sites mediate the influences of mood, arousal, and their interplay during recognition memory.