Cognitive and neural mechanisms of emotional memory

Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Sep 1;5(9):394-400. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01707-1.


A highly adaptive aspect of human memory is the enhancement of explicit, consciously accessible memory for emotional stimuli. Recent findings from neuroimaging, neuropsychological, drug and neural stimulation studies indicate that emotional stimuli engage specific cognitive and neural mechanisms that enhance explicit memory. Emotional arousal influences memory via factors that act during memory encoding (attention and elaboration) and factors that modulate memory consolidation. Across studies, the amygdala has been consistently implicated as playing a key role in enhancing explicit memory for both pleasant and unpleasant emotional stimuli through modulation of encoding and consolidation processes.