Amygdala activity related to enhanced memory for pleasant and aversive stimuli

Nat Neurosci. 1999 Mar;2(3):289-93. doi: 10.1038/6404.


Pleasant or aversive events are better remembered than neutral events. Emotional enhancement of episodic memory has been linked to the amygdala in animal and neuropsychological studies. Using positron emission tomography, we show that bilateral amygdala activity during memory encoding is correlated with enhanced episodic recognition memory for both pleasant and aversive visual stimuli relative to neutral stimuli, and that this relationship is specific to emotional stimuli. Furthermore, data suggest that the amygdala enhances episodic memory in part through modulation of hippocampal activity. The human amygdala seems to modulate the strength of conscious memory for events according to emotional importance, regardless of whether the emotion is pleasant or aversive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed