CSCA Frijda lecture: Cognitive neuroscience of emotional memory
Dr. Kevin LaBar
Prof. dr. Kevin LaBar Duke University, USA
Memories for emotional events constitute the core of our autobiographical record. Due to their personal and biological significance, it is likely that special mechanisms have evolved to link emotions to learning and memory functions. Advances in cognitive neuroscience have permitted an unprecedented opportunity to investigate how complex psychological processes interact in the human brain. This lecture will summarize our current understanding of how dimensions of emotional experience modify memory formation and retrieval at the neural systems level. Emotional arousal engages the amygdala, a limbic region in the medial temporal lobe, that has widespread connections to cortical structures, including those implicated in memory processes. Neuroimaging evidence links amygdala-hippocampal interactions with arousal-mediated memory benefits and the subjective sense of recollection. Studies of autobiographical memory and memory for complex real-world events illustrate how this core emotional memory circuit interfaces with brain areas supporting sensorimotor imagery and social cognition. When emotional arousal is dampened, additional prefrontal-dependent mechanisms contribute to memory formation for valenced information. Thus, multiple neural routes ensure that varieties of emotional experiences are preferentially retained in long-term memory.