Memory Modulation in the Classroom: Selective Enhancement of College Examination Performance by Arousal Induced after Lecture


Laboratory studies examining moderate physiological or emotional arousal induced after learning indicate that it enhances memory consolidation. Yet, no studies have yet examined this effect in an applied context. As such, arousal was induced after a college lecture and its selective effects were examined on later exam performance. Participants were divided into two groups who either watched a neutral video clip (n = 66) or an arousing video clip (n = 70) after lecture in a psychology course. The final examination occurred two weeks after the experimental manipulation. Only performance on the group of final exam items that covered material from the manipulated lecture were significantly different between groups. Other metrics, such as the midterm examination and the total final examination score, did not differ between groups. The results indicate that post-lecture arousal selectively increased the later retrieval of lecture material, despite the availability of the material for study before and after the manipulation. The results reinforce the role of post-learning arousal on memory consolidation processes, expanding the literature to include a real-world learning context

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