Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Amishi P. Jha

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Jonathan Banks


Cognitive control, which allows for the selection and monitoring of goal-relevant behaviors, is dynamically upregulated based on moment-to-moment cognitive demands. One route by which the magnitude of demand is registered by cognitive control systems is via detection of response conflict. Yet, working memory (WM) demands may similarly signal dynamic adjustments in cognitive control. In a WM delayed-recognition task, Jha and Kiyonaga (2010) demonstrated dynamic adjustments in cognitive control as a function of demand, via manipulation of mnemonic load and category-level delay- spanning cognitive interference. The current study aimed to replicate and extend prior work by investigating if the level of affective interference may similarly upregulate cognitive control. Participants (N = 89) completed a delayed-recognition WM task in which mnemonic load (memory load of 1 item vs. 2 items) and delay-spanning distracter interference (neutral vs. negative images) were manipulated in a factorial design. Similar to prior WM results, current trial performance varied as a function of load and interference. Performance was best on trials with low-load and neutral distraction and worst for trials with high-load and negative distraction. Analyses of previous trial demands, conducted to investigate dynamic adjustments in cognitive control, revealed higher current trial performance when the preceding trial was high- vs. low-load. In addition, higher current trial performance was observed when the preceding trial contained negative vs. neutral distracters. These results suggest that affective interference, similar to cognitive interference (Jha & Kiyonaga, 2010), may trigger dynamic adjustments in cognitive control during a WM task.


cognitive control; working memory; emotion