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Emotional episodic memory formation during Covid-19 quarantine: Preliminary results.

Candela Sofía León

  • Ciudad de Buenos Aires,
  • Argentina
  • Candela Sofía León ¹
  • , Matías Bonilla ¹
  • , Facundo Antonio Urreta Benitez ¹
  • , Cecilia Forcato ¹
  • 1 Laboratorio de Sueño y Memoria, Depto. de Ciencias de la Vida, Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires.

Memory processes are modulated by anxiety. People’s mental health has been deteriorated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, showing higher levels of anxiety. Thus, we hypothesize that episodic memory encoding and consolidation were impaired in the pandemic context. To test this, participants watched an aversive or neutral video on day 1 and they were tested immediately and on day 7. Our preliminary results indicate that the encoding and consolidation of aversive content were impaired. Furthermore, memory decay between day 1 and 7 was reduced for the neutral content and the anxiety level negatively correlated with the amount of true details for the aversive memory, on day 1. Moreover, we found a decrease in encoding and consolidation of neutral true information for males. The means of anxiety values did not differ between genders, and, considering that females typically exhibit higher baseline levels of anxiety, this suggests that males would be more affected in the pandemic context. The lower performance for males in the neutral group could be understood when considering this fact, because there is an optimal range of anxiety that facilitates memory processes and at the extremes values the performance is impaired. We consider that aversive information encoding was impaired due to the aversive context of pandemic and its emotional consequences.