Remembering the Details: Effects of Emotion

Department of Psychology, Boston College.
Emotion Review (Impact Factor: 2.9). 02/2009; 1(2):99-113. DOI: 10.1177/1754073908100432
Source: PubMed


Though emotion conveys memory benefits, it does not enhance memory equally for all aspects of an experience nor for all types of emotional events. In this review, I outline the behavioral evidence for arousal's focal enhancements of memory and describe the neural processes that may support those focal enhancements. I also present behavioral evidence to suggest that these focal enhancements occur more often for negative experiences than for positive ones. This effect of valence appears to arise because of valence-dependent effects on the neural processes recruited during episodic encoding and retrieval, with negative affect associated with increased engagement of sensory processes and positive affect leading to enhanced recruitment of conceptual processes.

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Available from: Elizabeth A Kensinger, Jul 23, 2014
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    • "Discrimination between old and new action events was larger for emotional than for neutral events for both younger and older adults, demonstrating that emotion enhanced memory for actions regardless of age. There was a nonsignificant trend for negative emotion to enhance memory for actions more than positive emotion which is consistent with Kensinger's (2009) hypothesis that negative emotion enhances memory more than positive emotion. "
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    ABSTRACT: When remembering an event, it is important to remember both the features of the event (e.g., a person and an action), and the connections among features (e.g., who performed which action). Emotion often enhances memory for stimulus features, but the relationship between emotion and the binding of features in memory is unclear. Younger and older adults attempted to remember events in which a person performed a negative, positive, or neutral action. Memory for the action was enhanced by emotion, but emotion did not enhance the ability of participants to remember which person performed which action. Older adults were more likely than younger adults to make binding errors in which they incorrectly remembered a familiar actor performing a familiar action that had actually been performed by someone else, and this age-related associative deficit was found for both neutral and emotional actions. Emotion increased correct recognition of old events for older and younger adults but also increased false recognition of events in which a familiar actor performed a familiar action that had been performed by someone else. Thus, although emotion may enhance memory for the features of an event, it does not increase the accuracy of remembering who performed which action.
    Cognition and Emotion 09/2015; in press. DOI:10.1080/02699931.2014.996530 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    • "Possibly , a brief delay supports the build - up of associations between different parts of the text and with existing semantic structures . Time - dependent memory consolidation effects are tipically found for emotional and rewarding material ( Kensinger , 2009 ) , as is self - relevant information . Future studies investigating the effect of different PQRST procedures at delays longer than 10 min , such as hours or days , would help clarify the possible mechanisms through which they operate . "
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    ABSTRACT: We tested (1) whether the PQRST method, involving Preview (P), Question (Q), Read (R), State (S), and Test (T) phases, is effective in enhancing long-term memory in patients with mild memory problems due to prefrontal cortex lesions, and (2) whether patients also benefit from a more self-initiated version of the PQRST. Seven patients with prefrontal lesions encoded new texts under three different conditions: the Standard condition, requiring to read texts repeatedly, the PQRST-Other condition, in which the experimenter formulated questions about the text (Q phase), and the PQRST-Self condition, in which patients formulated the relevant questions on their own. Compared to the Standard condition, both the PQRST-Other and the PQRST-Self condition resulted in higher immediate and delayed recall rates, as well as a higher ability to answer questions about the texts. Importantly, the two PQRST conditions did not differ in efficacy. These results confirm that the PQRST method is effective in improving learning of new material in brain-injured populations with mild memory problems. Moreover, they indicate that the PQRST proves effective even under conditions with higher demands on patients' autonomy and self-initiation, which encourages its application to real-life situations.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 08/2015; 9:211. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00211 · 3.27 Impact Factor
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    • "It is known that emotion is important for memory recall : for example , memories that are emotional are even easier to recall than memories that have been specifically attempted to be remembered ( Heuer and Reisberg , 1990 ) . Similarly , emotional memories ( regardless of valence ) are recalled better than neutral ones ( although there are differential effects for negative and positive emotions : Kensinger , 2009 ) . Walker ( 2009 ) notes that emotional memories are retained , though the emotion itself is reduced over time . "
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we propose an emotion assimilation function of sleep and dreaming. We offer explanations both for the mechanisms by which waking-life memories are initially selected for processing during sleep, and for the mechanisms by which those memories are subsequently transformed during sleep. We propose that emotions act as a marker for information to be selectively processed during sleep, including consolidation into long term memory structures and integration into pre-existing memory networks; that dreaming reflects these emotion assimilation processes; and that the associations between memory fragments activated during sleep give rise to measureable elements of dream metaphor and hyperassociativity. The latter are a direct reflection, and the phenomenological experience, of emotional memory assimilation processes occurring during sleep. While many theories previously have posited a role for emotion processing and/or emotional memory consolidation during sleep and dreaming, sleep theories often do not take enough account of important dream science data, yet dream research, when conducted systematically and under ideal conditions, can greatly enhance theorizing around the functions of sleep. Similarly, dream theories often fail to consider the implications of sleep-dependent memory research, which can augment our understanding of dream functioning. Here, we offer a synthesized view, taking detailed account of both sleep and dream data and theories. We draw on extensive literature from sleep and dream experiments and theories, including often-overlooked data from dream science which we believe reflects sleep phenomenology, to bring together important ideas and findings from both domains.
    Frontiers in Psychology 08/2015; 6(1132). DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01132 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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