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[Illinois] Beckman Graduate Seminar: Neural Correlates of Externally and Internally Originating Emotional Distraction Effects on Working Memory

By Alexandru D. Iordan

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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The Spring 2013 Beckman Institute Graduate Student Seminar Series continues on Wednesday, April 24. The seminar will feature three short talks from students Alexandru Iordan, Joshua Wood and Pauline Baniqued. Balanced emotion-cognition interactions are critical for healthy functioning. Clinical studies suggest that symptoms of impaired executive control and enhanced emotional distractibility observed in affective disorders are linked to dysfunctional interactions between a dorsal executive system and a ventral emotional system. Recent studies investigating the neural correlates of working memory interference by emotional distraction have provided evidence that interactions between these two systems can also occur transiently, in response to on-going task irrelevant emotional distracters. However, these previous investigations have used negative external distracters, such as high-arousing unpleasant pictures, and hence it is not known whether similar effects are produced by distracters with different characteristics, such as positive distracters, or distracters originating from ‘within the individual’, more similar to the distressing thoughts that occur in clinical patients. These issues have been addressed in two experiments part of an on-going investigation of the neural circuitries linking the enhancing and impairing effects of emotion on memory. Preliminary results suggest that the opposing pattern of activity in response to emotional distraction in the dorsal and ventral brain regions (decreased vs. increased) is mainly sensitive to emotional arousal rather than to emotional valence and it is similar for distracters originating in the external and internal environments. (Source:


Neural Correlates of Externally and Internally Originating Emotional Distraction Effects on Working Memory

Alexandru D. Iordan

Research Statement:

My research interests are in the area of cognitive and affective neurosciences, with a focus on the neural mechanisms underlying the impact of emotion on cognition, and especially on cognitive control/executive functions. The first main goal of my research is to explore the neural correlates of the interaction between emotion and cognition, focusing on: (1) the enhancing and impairing effects of emotion on cognitive processing (esp. cognitive control/executive functions and long-term memory); (2) emotion regulation. The second main goal of my research is to investigate individual differences (e.g., personality, sex-related) that might explain alterations in clinical conditions where emotion-cognition interactions are dysfunctional (esp. mood and anxiety disorders).




Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL


NanoBio Node, Adeeb Yunus

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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