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Neuropsychologia. 2011 Jun;49(7):1831-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.03.007. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

How emotion leads to selective memory: neuroimaging evidence.

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Department of Psychology, Boston College, McGuinn Hall 300, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, United States.


Often memory for emotionally arousing items is enhanced relative to neutral items within complex visual scenes, but this enhancement can come at the expense of memory for peripheral background information. This 'trade-off' effect has been elicited by a range of stimulus valence and arousal levels, yet the magnitude of the effect has been shown to vary with these factors. Using fMRI, this study investigated the neural mechanisms underlying this selective memory for emotional scenes. Further, we examined how these processes are affected by stimulus dimensions of arousal and valence. The trade-off effect in memory occurred for low to high arousal positive and negative scenes. There was a core emotional memory network associated with the trade-off among all the emotional scene types, however, there were additional regions that were uniquely associated with the trade-off for each individual scene type. These results suggest that there is a common network of regions associated with the emotional memory trade-off effect, but that valence and arousal also independently affect the neural activity underlying the effect.

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