Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Previous research has shown that emotional information aids conflict resolution in working memory [WM; Levens, S. M., & Phelps, E. A. Emotion processing effects on interference resolution in working memory. Journal of Emotion, 8, 267–280, 2008]. Using a recency-probes WM paradigm, it was found that positive and negative emotional stimuli reduced the amount of interference created when information that was once relevant conflicted with currently relevant information. To explore the neural mechanisms behind these facilitation effects, an event-related fMRI version of the recency-probes task was conducted using neutral and arousing positive and negative words as stimuli. Results replicate previous findings showing that the left and right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) is involved in the interference resolution of neutral information and reveal that the IFG is involved in the interference resolution of emotional information as well. In addition, ROIs in the right and left anterior insula and in the right orbital frontal cortex (OFC) were identified that appear to underlie emotional interference resolution in WM. We conclude that the IFG underlies neutral and emotional interference resolution, and that additional regions of the anterior insula and OFC may contribute to the facilitation of interference resolution for emotional information. These findings clarify the role of the insula and OFC in affective and executive processing, specifically in WM conflict resolution.