Emotions and learning

Line of smart classmates looking at camera with happy teacher behind themPeople often believe that positive emotions are better than negative emotions for students learning. But empirical research has provided a more complex picture, such that positive emotions cannot be always beneficial for students’ learning. Likewise, negative emotions can be sometimes beneficial for students’ achievement. When and how can negative emotions facilitate learning despite their general negative impacts? How similarly do positive and negative emotions affect learning? Answers to these questions are critical to understanding how best to facilitate students’ emotions in an educational setting. In our research, we aim to provide insights into these questions by examining the effects of emotions on each of the cognitive processes critical for students’ learning, including perception, attention, memory encoding, memory consolidation, goal setting, and problem solving. To understand the underlying mechanisms of the complex effects of emotions, we use a range of methods, including behavioral experiments, physiological assessments, computational modelling, neuroimaging and longitudinal surveys.


Relevant Papers

Sakaki, M.*, Ueno, T. *, Ponzio, A., Harley, C., & Mather, M. (2019). Emotional arousal amplifies competitions across goal-relevant representation: A neurocomputational framework. Cognition, 187, 108-125.    OSF Link    Request PDF Article

Ohtani, K., Tamura, A., Sakaki, M. , Murayama, K., Ishikawa, S.-i., Ishii, R., Nakazato, N., Suzuki, T. & Tanaka, A. (2022) Parental perception matters: reciprocal relations between adolescents’ depressive symptoms and parental perceptions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 70(1), 103–118.    Request PDF Article

Sakaki, M., Gorlick, M. A., & Mather, M. (2011). Differential interference effects of negative emotional states on subsequent semantic and perceptual processing. Emotion, 11, 1263-1278.    OSF Link    Request PDF Article

Forrest, J., Vogt, J. , McDonald, C., Searle, C. & Sakaki, M. (2022) Blind to threat: the presence of temporary goals prevents attention to imminent threat already at early stages of attention allocation. Motivation Science, 8(3), 239–251.    OSF Link    Request PDF Article

Raw, J., Rorke, A., Ellis, J., Murayama, K. & Sakaki, M. (2021). Memory of the UK's 2016 EU referendum: The effects of valence on the long-term measures of a public event. Emotion, 23(1), 52-74.    OSF Link    Request PDF Article

Sakaki, M., Meliss, S., Murayama, K., Yomogida, Y., Matsumori, K., Sugiura, A., Matsumoto, M. & Matsumoto, K. (2022). Motivated for near impossibility: How task type and reward modulate task enjoyment and the striatal activation for extremely difficult task. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 23, 30–41.    OSF Link    Request PDF Article

Kurdi, V., Fukuzumi, N., Ishii, R., Tamura, A., Nakazato, N., Ohtani, K., Ishikawa, S., Suzuki, T., Sakaki, M., Murayama, K. & Tanaka, A. (2023). Transmission of basic psychological need satisfaction between parents and adolescents: The critical role of parental perceptions. Social Psychological and Personality Science    OSF Link    Request PDF Article