Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Anne P. DePrince

Second Advisor

Kateri McRae

Third Advisor

Kathryn Fox

Fourth Advisor

Kimberly Chiew

Fifth Advisor

Kimberly Bender


Arousal, Dissociation, Memory


Dual representation theory (DRT) asserts that when an individual experiences an acutely stressful or traumatic event, encoding of memory of individual parts of an event (i.e., items) is enhanced, while connections between parts of an event (i.e., associations) is impaired due to peritraumatic changes in cognitive functioning. The current project sought to refine understanding of DRT by examining the differential effect of dissociation and hyperarousal, two common peritraumatic cognitive reactions, on memory for item and association information. Method: Using experimental methods from the cognitive study of memory, two studies evaluated how individual differences in cognitive states (Study 1) and experimentally induced cognitive states (Study 2) affected recognition of items (i.e., images of everyday objects) and associations (i.e., background scene images paired with the objects) on an adapted memory task after a delay of 24 hours. Results: The adapted memory task was well-tolerated and performed comparably with similar paradigms. Study 1 results suggested that better item memory was related to greater resting-state dissociation, but unrelated to resting-state arousal; and better association memory was associated with lower resting-state arousal, but unrelated to resting-state dissociation. In Study 2, self-reported cognitive states changed in the predicted directions following experimental manipulations; however, heartrate data suggested no physiological response to the paradigms. These Study 2 analyses of memory performance are interpreted with caution because the sample size was underpowered to detect studied effects. Conclusions: While these results do not provide clear support for DRT, they are discussed in the context of more general memory findings and theories, as well as methodological implications for future studies of DRT.

Publication Statement

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Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Naomi M. Wright

File size

126 pgs

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