Does emotion help us remember-The role of emotion in memory

Does emotion help us remember? That’s not an easy question to answer, which is unsurprising when you consider the complexities of emotion. 

First of all, there are two, quite different, elements to this question. The first concerns the emotional content of the information you want to remember. The second concerns the effect of your emotional state on your learning and remembering.

It does seem clear that, as a general rule, we remember emotionally charged events better than boring ones. 

Kindly link at The role of emotion in memory

Some insight from this article:  

An investigation of autobiographical memories found that positive memories contained more sensorial and contextual details than neutral or negative memories (which didn’t significantly differ from each other in this regard). This was true regardless of individual’s personal coping styles.

  • emotionally charged events are remembered better 

  •  pleasant emotions are usually remembered better than unpleasant ones 

  •   positive memories contain more contextual details (which in turn, helps memory) 

  • strong emotion can impair memory for less emotional events and information experienced at the same time 

  •   it’s the emotional arousal, not the importance of the information, that helps memory 

A small study in which participants performed difficult cognitive tasks after watching short videos designed to elicit one of three emotional states ( pleasant, neutral or anxious), found that mild anxiety improved performance on some tasks, but hurt performance on others. Similarly, being in a pleasant mood boosted some kinds of performance but impaired other kinds. 

This may have something to do with different emotions being involved with different brain regions. 

  •  remembering is easier when your mood matches the mood you were in when experiencing/learning the information
  •  the stronger the emotions aroused, the greater the effect on memory
  • emotions can be evoked, or minimized, by displaying or suppressing expressions of emotion 
  •   different emotional states may impair or help memory, for different memory tasks 

It has also been speculated that age-related cognitive decline may be partly caused by a greater cortisol responsivity to stress.

  • emotion and attention are related phenomena 
  •    emotion acts on memory at all points of the memory cycle – at encoding, consolidation, and retrieval
  • emotion acts on memory in various ways, including the production of stress hormones, use of working memory capacity, and involvement of particular brain regions.



Effective Artciles which align to above article. Kindly link and share your expereince.

~Ajay Singh Niranjan ~


12 Responses to “Does emotion help us remember-The role of emotion in memory”

  1. Sanjay Negi Says:

    Hi Ajay,

    This was great….the three aspects of the memory cycle, encoding, consolidation and retrieval.

    What are your thoughts on memory capabilities of emotional people vs cold calculating people. I have anecdotally observed that emotional people are generally not as good at retrieving…is it because emotions impair some of that capability.



  2. Pratyush Says:

    this was really fantastic

  3. huatliim Says:

    Very insightful and useful, but nevertheless I have a view that one also never forgets a bad event or disturbing and unsettling issues..its natural…although for my purposes, in design, a memorable event and wonderful sapce is better recalled and stored into our subconscious..


  4. ajayniranjan Says:

    [ ……emotional people are generally not as good at retrieving…is it because emotions impair some of that capability.] – Sanjay

    Dear sanjay,
    You are very right. Some time intensity of emotion is very high which directly affects the effectiveness of our mind.

    Mind has constant habit to attach of our every thoughts & emotions.

    That is why, Meditation is the solution.

    My recommendation: Vipassana Meditation-a logical process of mental purification through self-observation : For understanding of Totality and wholeness or understanding our nature of mind.

    Most of the time, we spends lots of energies on periphery of the problem but forget center of the problem. So focus of root cause of the problem.

    I feel that power of emotion is more powerful that power of thougts. So very care to our own feeling & emotions …..becasue it move ourself from passion to compassion ……from problem to solution .

    and It is our choice ….. becoz …..we are very free at level of roots

    – Ajay Singh Niranjan

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