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Emotion. 2003 Sep;3(3):239-53.

Evidence for preserved emotional memory in normal older persons.

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University of Iowa College of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, Iowa City, 52242, US.


Emotion has been shown to have a modulatory effect on declarative memory. Normal aging is associated with a decline in declarative memory, but whether aging might affect the influence of emotion on memory has not been established. To investigate this, we administered a task that provides a detailed assessment of emotional memory to 80 neurologically normal adults ranging in age from 35 to 85 years. Across ages, memory performance was found to be modulated by the emotional significance of stimuli in a comparable manner (improved memory for gist, compromised memory for visual detail), despite an overall decline in memory performance with increasing age. The results raise the interesting possibility that aging has a differential effect on hippocampal versus amygdala function.

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