Mara Mather (University of Southern California)
Arousal-biased competition in perception and memory
Our everyday surroundings besiege us with information. The battle is for a share of our limited
attention and memory, with the brain selecting the winners and discarding the losers. Previous research shows that both bottom-up and top-down factors bias competition in favor of high priority stimuli. In this talk, I will outline a theory of arousal-biased competition that posits that arousal during an event increases biases favoring high priority stimuli both in perception and in long-term memory of the event. Arousal-biased competition theory provides specific predictions about when arousal will enhance and when it will impair memory for events, accounting for some puzzling contradictions in the emotional memory literature.