Differential effects of emotional arousal in short- and long-term memory in healthy adults
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Recent studies demonstrated important differences between short- and long-term memory mechanisms. Besides, the emotional component has a crucial role in memory formation. This study was carried out to answer whether there is a differential influence of emotional arousal in short- and long-term memory in healthy adults. Thirty-one healthy volunteers were divided into two major groups. In the first group long-term memory (LTM) was evaluated, with the testing session one week after training. The second group was tested 1h after training, where short-term memory (STM) was evaluated. Each group was divided in to two subgroups. One half of the volunteers was exposed to an emotionally neutral story, and the other half of each group was exposed to a closely matched but more emotionally arousing story. The testing session consisted of a questionary containing 80 questions of multiple choices. The results were evaluated through percentage of correct answers. Results showed that correct answers were increased, in LTM measures, in the subjects that were given the emotional version of the test. In STM measures, no differences were found between the emotional and neutral version. However, the presentation of emotional story caused an emotional reaction in both groups. The lack of effect of emotional arousal in STM suggests that amygdala is not related to STM mechanisms. Further studies using different approaches are needed to elucidate if STM processes are influenced by emotional arousal.
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