Article

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

ABSTRACT

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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    • "This results in enhanced memory for central information at the expense of peripheral details (Christianson & Loftus, 1991), a phenomenon referred to as emotional memory narrowing (Kensinger, 2009) or tunnel memory (Safer, Christianson, Autry, & Osterland, 1998 ). Researchers have documented emotional memory narrowing both in laboratory studies (e.g., Kensinger, 2009) and across a wide range of real-world events including natural disasters (Bahrick, Parker, Fivush, & Levitt, 1998), physical injuries (Peterson & Bell, 1996), and crime scenes (Reisberg & Heuer, 2007). Of particular relevance to criminal investigations, laboratory studies provide evidence of " weapon focus, " in which witnesses focus on and remember the features of a crime scene that threaten safety, such as the weapon used to commit the crime, at the expense of details such as the perpetrator's face or clothing that are of importance to police (Loftus, Loftus, & Messo, 1987; Steblay, 1992). "
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