How Does Emotion Help Us Remember?

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Introduction Memories define who we truly are, as well as how we transition through life. Memory is a multi stage process, as many factors contribute to the encoding and retrieving process in all human beings. Numerous studies have been conducted, as psychologists strive to answer the question of exactly what factors contribute to human memory. A very controversial topic within the study of memory is the role of emotion in memory. This brings us to the question, does emotion help us remember? Due to the many studies conducted throughout the years, it does seem clear that individuals remember more emotionally charged events better than non emotional ones. The relationship between memory and emotion, is one that psychologists have not yet…show more content…
Majority of studies have focused mainly on arousal, as this dimension of emotion is seen as the essential element in order to captivate the amygdala. This can be displayed by a study conducted by Schimmack in 2005. This study “compared negative bias, evolutionary threat and arousal as factors in attentional interference and came to the finding that the most important factor tends to be how arousing the stimuli are, rather than their valance” (Schimmack, 2005). This is due to Schimmack’s finding that it was the highly arousing stimuli that created the most interference. “Recent neuroimaging and lesion evidence has suggested that arousal may be the key factor, as the amygdala may respond to any arousing stimulus regardless of valance” (Adolphs, Russell, & Tranel, 1999). Research dedicated to emotional valance and its affect on memory disagree, as studies show that emotional valance alone, can enhance memory without the need of emotional arousal. Garavan, Pendergrass, Ross, Stein, & Risinger (2001), found that “when processing emotional pictures, arousal modulated amygdala increases for negative stimuli, whereas the amygdala response remained rather high for positive stimuli”. Also, Bernsten, Bechara, Damasil, Tranel, & Cacioppo (2007), found that individuals with lesions within their amygdala, did not display usual behavioural incline in arousal ratings to negative pictures, while the incline in ratings for
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