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University of Stirling


Dr Graham MacKenzie

Research Fellow

Psychology University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Dr Graham MacKenzie

Contact details

About me

I am a Research Fellow in Cogntiive Neuroscience who uses experimental cogntive psychology in tandem with measures of brain activity to study phenomena such as episodic memory and face recognition. I did both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees here at Stirling. After completing my PhD in 2007, I worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Glasgow from 2008 and then as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh from 2009. I returned to Stirling in 2012. I am currently working on a 3-year BBSRC-funded project called 'Bridging the gap in recognition memorybetween unknown and known faces.'

Event / Presentation

Identity aftereffects for familiar faces depend on training and residual information in the test image. 32nd European Conference on Visual Perception

Does arousal independently boost memory for emotional scenes?
Investigating the effects of emotion with the left-parietal ERP old/new effect.. Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting 2014

Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Emotion can enhance or impair episodic memory. Increases in emotional arousal selectively enhance recollection of prior events. However, two principal dimensions of emotion – arousal and valence – are rarely manipulated independently and the discrete effect of arousal remains unclear. Here we ask whether manipulating the arousal of negatively valenced scenes affects recollection. Participants performed a source memory task requiring recollection and Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) were recorded during retrieval. All scenes had negative valence and were sorted into high- and low-arousal conditions. Scenes were studied with either a square or circle pattern overlaid, providing a source attribute. At test, old and new scenes were presented alone and participants made initial old/new decisions before making source judgments for all recognized scenes. Behaviourally, while there was no effect of arousal on source memory, response bias was more conservative for low-arousal scenes. In accordance with the source memory data, ERPs revealed no difference in magnitude of the left-parietal old/new effects; 500-700msec) for high and low arousal scenes. However, the old/new effects associated with familiarity (300-500msec) were topographically dissociable, with a classic mid-frontal old/new effect for high-arousal scenes and a right-frontal effect for low-arousal scenes – suggesting that arousal may influence recognition memory by changes in response bias influencing how familiarity is processed. Critically, and contrary to our expectations, behavioural and neural findings provide convergent evidence that increasing the arousal of negative scenes does not enhance recollection. Although increases in emotional arousal may enhance memory, increasing arousal alone has no effect on recollection.

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