Your emotional experience can affect how you remember future events

Washington: Researchers in the United States have found that an emotional experience, which persists for over 20 to 30 minutes, can influence how you remember future experiences.

The study, which appeared in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also showed that this emotional ” hangover” influences how we attend and remember future experiences.

“How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal state and these internal states can persist and color future experiences,” said senior study author Lila Davachi.

“Emotion is a state of mind,” Davachi continues. “These findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”

The researchers demonstrated that non-emotional experiences that followed emotional ones were also better remembered on a later memory test.

To do so, the study participants viewed a series of scene images that contained emotional content and elicited arousal.

Approximately 10 to 30 minutes later, one group then viewed a series of non-emotional, ordinary scene images while the other group viewed non-emotional scenes first followed by the emotional ones.

Both physiological arousal, measured in skin conductance and brain activity, using fMRI was monitored in both groups of participants.

Six hours later, the subjects were administered a memory test of the images previously viewed.

The results showed that the participants, who were exposed to the emotion-evoking stimuli first, had better long-term recall of the neutral images as compared to the group exposed to the same neutral images first before the emotional images.

The data showed that the brain states associated with emotional experiences carried over for 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the participants processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.

“We see that memory for non- emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event,” Davachi stated. (ANI)