Get Your FREE subscription today
Current Issues Past Issues Who We Are Resources Get Involved Glossary
 
From the Editor
Editor's Note
 
Memory News
Have A Nice Memory
 
The Statin Solution
Lowering cholesterol with statin medications may be as good for the brain as the heart.
Go to Article >>
 
Been There, Done That, Seen That
Déjà vu: It’s brief, unsettling, and impossible to pin under a microscope, but science may finally have a way to study this intriguing but unexplained phenomenon.

Go to Article >>

 
The Masters of Memory
After scaling the Mt. Olympus of total recall, Scott Hagwood came down to earth with a new calling: helping ordinary people to develop extraordinary memories.
Go to Article >>
   
Memory Tip
Don't Sweat the Details
 
Memory News
   
Have A Nice Memory -  by Daniel Pendick

The time you were mugged at gunpoint in the parking garage, or the

moment you saw your newborn for the first time—such experiences

remain vivid for a lifetime. Countless studies show that the more emotional that an experience is, the better we remember it. But not all emotional experiences are created equal, according to a study in the July 5, 2005, Journal of Neuroscience.  People appear to recall events that directly preceded a happy event and forget those that came before a sad one.

 

German researchers showed volunteers a series of 8 photos, each

with a descriptive title beneath. Seven of the eight belonged to the same category, for example, “apple, pear, banana, grapefruit” and so on. One item was an oddball, such as “fire truck.” As would be expected people tended to remember the oddball item better.

 

Sometimes the oddball item was emotionally positive, such as a

cute baby or a pretty flower; other times the item was negative, such as a bloody severed hand. Since emotional memories are more durable, either the positive or negative image evoked a stronger emotional response, and thus would be remembered more vividly than the neutral images.

 

However, the volunteers tended to have better recall for items that

came before the positive images, compared to those that came before the negative ones. The researchers speculate that this may have something to do with the role of emotion in learning. The brain may have evolved a bias toward remembering events that lead to a positive experience, or reward, such as locating a source of food or water. In contrast, we may be wired to forget events that lead to a negative experience.

 

                          -Copyright © 2005 Memory Loss and the Brain

 

Further Reading

Noradrenergic modulation of emotion-induced forgetting and

remembering,” by Rene Hurlemann and others. (The Journal of Neuroscience, ,July 6, 2005, Vol. 25, No. 27, pp. 6343-6349.)