The Neuroanatomy of Emotional Memory in Humans

Tony W. Buchanan and Ralph Adolphs

in Memory and Emotion

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195158564
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848126 | DOI:

Series: Series in Affective Science

The Neuroanatomy of Emotional                         Memory in Humans

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This chapter explores the neuroanatomy of emotional memory, arguing that the brain mechanisms that encode, consolidate, and retrieve memories may operate differentially in emotional and non-emotional contexts. Specifically, the chapter emphasizes the role of the amygdala in the enhancement of memory for emotional events, largely through the amygdala's influence over brain areas (including the hippocampus and striatum) during the period of memory consolidation and also during the retrieval of emotional memories. Data are drawn from human studies and from studies of other species, from lesion evidence, and from neuroimaging. The specific effects reported, however, are not uniform, and there is evidence of emotion's mixed effects on memory. Thus, for example, bilateral amygdala damage seems to eliminate both emotion's tendency to promote memory for an event's gist and also its tendency to undermine memory for an events periphery. At the same time, the effects do seem general in other ways, and the chapter argues that the amygdala effects (and, more broadly, emotion's memory effects) depend on arousal itself rather than the emotion's valence.

Keywords: neuroanatomy; emotional memory; brain; amygdala; emotional events; memory consolidation; lesion; emotion; arousal; valence

Chapter.  13901 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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