Emotional devaluation in ignoring and forgetting as a function of adolescent development

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Vivas A.B.
Chrysochoou E.
Marful A.
Bajo T.
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We know that emotion and cognition interact to guide goal-directed behavior. Accordingly, it has recently been shown that distracting stimuli (Raymond, Fenske, & Tavassoli, 2003) and instructed to-be-forgotten items (Vivas, Marful, Panagiotidou, & Bajo, 2016) are emotionally devaluated. The devaluation by inhibition hypothesis (Raymond, Fenske, & Tavassoli, 2003) is the main theoretical explanation of these effects. However, we know little about how the cognition-emotion interplay is further modulated by development, and particularly, by changes in inhibitory control and affective processing within the adolescence period. In the present study we combined a selective attention task with faces, and a selective memory (directed forgetting paradigm) task with words, with a pleasantness evaluation task to address this question in three age groups; younger adolescents, older adolescents and young adults. Younger adolescents exhibited worse accuracy in the attention task, lower overall recognition of words in the memory task, and a smaller in magnitude directed forgetting effect in the latter, relative to the two older groups. That is, they showed less efficient inhibitory control in attention and memory selection. Despite this, all groups showed similar devaluation effects of the distractor faces and the to-be-forgotten words. Our findings do not fully support an inhibition account of such effects. Yet, they support the robustness of the forgetting devaluation effect, replicating the findings of Vivas, Marful, Panagiotidou, and Bajo (2016) with a Greek version of the task and in a bigger sample of participants.