Your emotions are closely related to your ability to recall information. The emotional memory, or flashbulb memory, allows you to remember events with a great detail when there was an emotional arousal involved.
The emotional memory is not as strong or accurate as a photographic memory and not even close to an eidetic one.
Still, it is way stronger than your average mental skill to retain information. The forgetting curve is way longer if the event effected you in an emotional way.
How Does the Flashbulb Memory Works?
According a a study made by Finkenhauer (1988) there is an specific outline of the events stored by your emotional memory system.
- The event must have a significant event on the person who experienced, witnessed or heard about it.
- Adrenaline is an important factor. If the event was intense, there are more chances for it to be stored by the flashbulb memory by the amygdala.
- When people talk about the shocking event, the memory becomes even stronger.
- Sometimes this kind of memory is not really accurate because of the involvement of emotions. Some of the memories could be altered by external media in case of a big event.
There are testimonials of some people who have learned how to activate their emotional memory at will and used it as acting exercises.
Recalling a past real experience that triggered a specific kind of emotion can help you to bring it back to this moment.
Where is the Emotional Memory Stored?
As any other emotional response observed through a PET scan, the emotional memory shows activity on the limbic system region of the brain, more specifically on the amygdala.
Stress hormones are responsible of this strong kind of memory. Scientific research shows that they have a really strong influence over the long term memory.
Any strong boost on adrenaline during a certain situation strengthen the emotional memory. This is why most of the times negative or bad memories are stored with more detail than the positive experiences.