Basic and Applied Memory Research: Practical Applications - Vol. 2

By Douglas J. Herrmann; Cathy McEvoy et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY Selective Encoding of Emotional Information

Andrew Mathews
MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, England

The relationship between memory and emotion has been studied within several distinct domains, with research and theory in each area proceeding with little or no reference to the others. My intention here is to review current developments in these domains, drawing out connections that may be useful but seem to have been ignored: These links suggest relatively general hypotheses about the interaction between emotion and memory. The three topics to be discussed are: memory deficits associated with emotion, memory for emotional events, and memory for mood-congruent information in normal and abnormal populations. After a brief and necessarily selective review of each, I summarize common themes, and suggest unifying hypotheses. To anticipate, I argue that the main theme emerging from the data in each domain is that emotional information is given priority for processing over competing neutral information, and is thus preferentially encoded.


MEMORY DEFICITS AND EMOTION

Negative mood states have commonly been found to be associated with general deficits in memory, and converse advantages may accompany positive mood. For example, depression is associated with relative deficits in memory when the to-be-remembered material requires intentional organization to maximize performance (such as mixed word lists that can, with effort, be organized into categories for retrieval purposes). Depressed sub-

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