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How emotion enhances the feeling of remembering.

Studies examining memories of arousing 'real-life' events show that emotion heightens the feeling of remembering, without necessarily enhancing the objective accuracy of the memories. We measured brain activity associated with the feeling of remembering emotional and neutral photos. Subjects indicated whether recognition was accompanied by a recollection of details about the study episode ('remember') or not ('know'). 'Remember' judgments were boosted for emotional photos, but accuracy did not differ. For neutral photos, 'remember' judgments were related to enhanced activity in the parahippocampal cortex, previously related to recognition of visual details, which one might expect to supply the retrieval clues for a 'remember' judgment. In contrast, 'remember' judgments for emotional photos were associated with enhanced activity in the amygdala, suggesting that subjects rely on arousal and perceptual fluency to evaluate these memories. For the first time, we identify the neural mechanisms underlying the enhanced feeling of remembering for emotional events.

Pubmed ID: 15558065


  • Sharot T
  • Delgado MR
  • Phelps EA


Nature neuroscience

Publication Data

December 11, 2004

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: MH62104

Mesh Terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition (Psychology)