Role of Emotion in Memory


Enhanced Memories: Flashbulb Memories

Flashbulb memory: a memory that is extremely detailed, usually at a time of high emotional arousal e.g. the attack on the world trade centre (9/11)- doesn't seem to decay over time, can last a life time- but they're only your perception, some details may be lacked. Can also be significant personal events e.g. death of someone close, injury. 

Brown and Kulik (1977) first used the term to describe vivid, long-lasting memories surrounding a person's discovery of a shocking event

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What causes flashbulb memories?

Cahill and McGaugh (1998) say that flashbulb memories occur because of a release of hormones during a time of high emotion- hormones help the person or animal respond- also enhances their memory so that they can remember how to act if a similar situation happens in the future

supported by Cahill and McGaugh (1995) found that if they injected rats with adrenaline their recall was better

another theory... they're so vivid because they are repeated and therefore rehearsed often Neisser (1982) shocking events such as a terrorist attack or loss of a relative will be talked about often and normally a person will hear a lot of different accounts of the event, this willl provide them with the opportunity for rehearsal 

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How accurate are flashbulb memories?

it is difficult to measure the accuracy of flashbulb memories because you can't prove whether someone's account of an event is correct or not

Loftus memories can easily be altered by information recieved after the event- are flashbulb memories the same?

Wright (1993) interviewed people about their recall of the Hillsborough disaster to see if the event had produced some flashbulb memories- after five months, most people's memories were quite vague and contained some biases- these people had a blend of their real experiences and some information given to them after the event 

Wright argues that flashbulb memories are no different from normal memories as they can be altered just the same

Mcloskey et al (1988) similar experiment to Wright but used the space shuttle challenger explosion- found that participants forgot elements of the event and that their recall had errors in it

Conway et al (1994) said that the space shuttle explosion was not a good example because it didn't have significance to the ppts- used Thatcher's resignation for people in the UK- 11 months after the event 86% still had flashbulb memories

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