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Memory can be enhanced by emotional hangovers

Harold Mandel's picture
Emotional experiences

Researchers say there is something called an "emotional hangover" and that these emotional brain states can enhance the formation of future memory.


Strong emotions are an experience of the human condition which we all have at sometime. It has now become apparent that the experience of emotional states can benefit memory.

Memory and physiological states are influenced for long periods of time by emotional experiences

NeuroscienceNews.com reports something called an "emotional hangover" exists. It has been observed that memory and physiological states are influenced for long periods of time by emotional experiences.

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A team of researchers from New York University says that physiological and internal brain states which last for extended periods of time after termination of the emotional events can be induced by emotional experiences. This study has also found that how we attend to and how we remember future experiences are influenced by this "emotional hangover."

Our internal states also strongly influence how we remember

Lila Davachi, who is an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and who is the senior author of this study, says the way we remember events is not just due to experiences we have in the external world. Our internal states also strongly influence how we remember. These internal states can last and color our experiences in the future.

Davachi explains that emotion is a state of mind. It has become clear from this study the preceding experiences strongly influence our cognition. It is significant that emotional states of the brain can last for extended periods of time.
Furthermore it was observed that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they happen after an emotional event has occurred.

This study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Future memory formation has been noted to be enhanced by emotional states of the brain. It appears that the carry-over phenomenon of emotional brain states can have an influence on subsequent neutral experiences. Neural measures of an emotional experience seem to persist over time and influence how new information is encoded and remembered. The experience of strong emotional events seems to have a significant upside of improving memory.