The Role of Emotion:


Flashbulb memories:

  • Detailed and long-lasting memories that are usually highly significant and emotional.
  • McCloskey et al- aimed to test the accuracy of flashbulb memory. People were interviewed a few days after the space shuttle diaster about their memories surrounding the event and again 9 months later. There were inaccuracies in their memories and discrepancies between shortly after the event & 9 months later.
  • Findings state that flashbulb memories are subject to the same inaccuracies as other memories & findings suggest that flashbulb memories are not special types of memories - been criticised on the grounds that the shuttle diaster did not meet the criteria for flashbulb memories for all the participants.
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Freud's Theory of Repression:

  • Proposed that the unconscious mind represses painful memories back into the unconscious to prevent further anxiety.
  • Hunter (1957) - conducted a case study on Irene, who'd watched her mother slowly dying for 60 days - when her mother died, Irene was highly distruaght. Soon after, she appeared to have no memory of the events surrounding her mother's death.
  • The event remained in LTM, but had been repressed.
  • There'd been a number of case studies which seem to suggest highly traumatic events can cause the oss of memories of such events.
  • However, they're open to bias & the findings are difficult to generlaise or replicate. However, critics of repression have suggested that such recovered memories may be fale.
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Depressive State~:

  • Depression has been linked to impaired memory in a number of ways.
  • Firstly, depression creates a negative recall bias or mood-congruent memory - people who are suffering from depression, mostly recall negative unhappy experiences.
  • Secondly, depression is linked to poor memory - may be because depression may lead to poor attention so that people fail to encode events in LTM, it's the fact that the memory was never stored in the first place.
  • Thirdly, the biochemical causes or effects of depression may affect memory processses.
  • Antikainen (2001) - 174 adults with major depression performed poorly on memory tasks, such as the ability to repeat short stories or lists from memory. After 6 months of treatment, those patients whose depression had been reduced performed better on the memory tests and also reported fewer memory problems.
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Biochemical factors & brain structures:

Biochemical factors:

  • Research has shown that hormones associated with emotional arousal, such as adrenaline & cortisol, affect memory.
  • Cahill & McGaugh (1995) found that when rats were injected with a stimulant drug before a learning task, they showed better recall.
  • Buchanan and Lavello (2001) demonstrated superior recall in humans when given cortisol.

Brain Structures:

  • Sheline (1999) used MRI scans to measure the hippocampi of women, half of whom had a history of clinical depression. - the women with depression had smaller hippocampio and scored lower on memory tests than the non-depressed group, regardless of age - suggested that the high cortisol levels in depressed patients may cause shrinkage of the hippocampus, causing impaired memory.
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