The purpose of the present experiment was to investigate the effects of emotional interference on consolidation of sequential learning. In different sessions, 6 groups of subjects were initially trained on a serial reaction time task (SRTT). To modulate consolidation of the newly learned skill, subjects were exposed, after the training, to 1 of 3 (positive, negative or neutral) different classes of emotional stimuli which consisted of a set of emotional pictures combined with congruent emotional musical pieces or neutral sound. Emotional intervention for each subject group was done in 2 different time intervals (either directly after the training session or 6 h later). After a 72 h post-training interval, each group was retested on the SRTT. Re-test performance was evaluated in terms of response times and accuracy during execution of a target sequence. Emotional intervention did not influence either response times or accuracy of re-testing SRTT target task performance, both variables sensitive to implicit knowledge acquired during SRTT training. However, explicit awareness of sequence knowledge after 72 h was enhanced when negative stimuli had been applied at 0 h after training. These findings suggest that consolidation of explicit aspects of procedural learning may be more responsive toward emotional interference than implicit aspects.
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