The slow forgetting of emotional episodic memories: an emotional binding account

Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 May;19(5):259-67. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.02.009. Epub 2015 Mar 30.


Emotional events are remembered better than neutral events, and this emotion advantage becomes particularly pronounced over time. The time-dependent effects of emotion impact upon recollection rather than on familiarity-based recognition, and they influence the recollection of item-specific details rather than contextual details. Moreover, the amygdala, but not the hippocampus, is crucial for producing these effects. Time-dependent effects of emotion have been attributed to an emotional consolidation process whereby the amygdala gradually facilitates the storage of emotional memories by other medial temporal lobe regions. However, we propose that these effects can be better understood by an emotional binding account whereby the amygdala mediates the recollection of item-emotion bindings that are forgotten more slowly than item-context bindings supported by the hippocampus.

Keywords: emotional memory; medial temporal lobes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Time Factors