The Effect of modality specific interference on working memory in recalling aversive auditory and visual memories

Suzy J.M.A. Matthijssen*, Kevin van Schie, Marcel A. van den Hout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Both auditory and visual emotional memories can be made less emotional by loading working memory (WM) during memory recall. Taxing WM during recall can be modality specific (giving an auditory [visuospatial] load during recall of an auditory [visual] memory) or cross modal (an auditory load during visual recall or vice versa). We tested whether modality specific loading taxes WM to a larger extent than cross modal loading. Ninety-six participants undertook a visual and auditory baseline Random Interval Repetition task (i.e. responding as fast as possible to a visual or auditory stimulus by pressing a button). Then, participants recalled a distressing visual and auditory memory, while performing the same visual and auditory Random Interval Repetition task. Increased reaction times (compared to baseline) were indicative of WM loading. Using Bayesian statistics, we compared five models in terms of general and modality specific taxation. There was support for the model describing the effect on WM of dual tasking in general, irrespective of modality specificity, and for the model describing the effect of modality specific loading. Both models combined gained the most support. The results suggest a general effect of dual tasking on taxing WM and a superimposed effect of taxing in matched modality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1180
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • auditory memories
  • Bayesian statistics
  • EMDR
  • Modality specific taxing
  • random interval repetition task
  • working memory taxation


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of modality specific interference on working memory in recalling aversive auditory and visual memories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this