156 | Visual emotional context at encoding influences item memory for L2 speakers

Cognition, Behavior, and Memory

Author: Leticia Sarli | Email: leti.sarli@gmail.com

Leticia Sarli , Manuela Rebak , Nadia Justel

1° Laboratorio Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia Cognitiva (LINC), Centro de Investigación en Neurociencias y Neuropsicología (CINN), Universidad de Palermo. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2° Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). Argentina
3° Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina.

Previous research found word processing differences between first (L1) and second (L2) languages that are modulated by language of presentation, modality, and emotionality. In life, however, words are embedded in different contexts that impact perception and memory. This study aimed to assess how visual emotional contexts influence emotional word memory. Fourteen bilingual volunteers completed an encoding-retrieval task in their L1 and L2. At encoding, 126 emotional words were paired with emotional pictures. Emotional categories were positive, neutral and negative. At retrieval, participants performed a recognition task in which the 126 target words were presented in isolation, combined with 126 novel words. Results showed language differences for item memory. For L1, negative words were better recognized when paired with neutral pictures. For L2, positive words encoded in negative and neutral contexts and negative words in negative contexts were recognized better. L1-L2 differences in emotional processing extend beyond perception and can be modulated by contextual information. For L1, word and context emotionality might compete for attentional resources and affect encoding; hence, the least emotionally demanding context (neutral) might boost memory performance. For L2, less word-context competition might be allowing for valence-related sensibilities to appear. Thus, emotional congruency did not affect positive words, but it did affect negative L2 items.