Brain imaging investigation of the memory-enhancing effect of emotion.
Emotional events tend to be better remembered than non-emotional events. One goal of cognitive and affective neuroscientists is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying this enhancing effect of emotion on memory. A method that has proven particularly influential in the investigation of the memory-enhancing effect of emotion is the so-called subsequent memory paradigm (SMP). This method was originally used to investigate the neural correlates of non-emotional memories, and more recently we and others also applied it successfully to studies of emotional memory (reviewed in). Here, we describe a protocol that allows investigation of the neural correlates of the memory-enhancing effect of emotion using the SMP in conjunction with event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). An important feature of the SMP is that it allows separation of brain activity specifically associated with memory from more general activity associated with perception. Moreover, in the context of investigating the impact of emotional stimuli, SMP allows identification of brain regions whose activity is susceptible to emotional modulation of both general/perceptual and memory-specific processing. This protocol can be used in healthy subjects, as well as in clinical patients where there are alterations in the neural correlates of emotion perception and biases in remembering emotional events, such as those suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Shafer, A; Iordan, A; Cabeza, R; Dolcos, F
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