Memory and Emotions

What was the best learning experience you ever had? What made it so good? What was the worst? What made it so bad? Chances are you find it easier to remember the bad ones. Why? Memory and emotions are related. You probably had a negative emotional reaction to the experience, the place, the situation — perhaps it was frustration, anger, or fear (of the consequences of not learning). Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have found a correlation between bad experiences and memory formation about places.

Memory and Emotions

“This heightened recall occurs automatically, without people even being aware that the negative imagery is affecting their memories,” said Dr Oliver Baumann from Queensland Brain Institute.

For the study, Professor Jason Mattingley built a “virtual house” and staged events in each room unrelated to the subject navigating the house. The events were designed to elicit an emotional response – positive, negative, or neutral, and varied in their rate of occurrence.

The results showed that emotional arousal exerted a powerful influence on memory

You can read the article here.

My experience has been that memory and emotions are indeed connected. Not only do negative emotions enhance memory of places, but they enhance the memory of the experience as well. It would be beneficial if researchers could find a way to use positive emotions to boost memory instead of negative. After all, negative emotions occurring in the workplace aren’t good for morale.

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