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Forgetting to Remember: Emotion robs memory while reviving it

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1:49pm, November 5, 2003

Emotionally charged events often seem particularly memorable. But this vivid recall may come at a cost. A new study in England suggests that the same biological process that aids recall of emotional experiences also blocks memories of what happened just before those arousing occurrences took place.

These memory effects appear to depend on a common neurobiological mechanism, says neuroscientist Bryan A. Strange of University College London. Women suffer larger emotionally instigated memory losses than men do, Strange and his coworkers also have found.

Emotion-induced memory gains and losses reflect the activity of stress hormones from the adrenal glands on the amygdala, an inner-brain structure, the scientists assert in the Nov. 11 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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