Emotional experiences may cause physiological 'hangovers' that persist for a long time, even after the emotional event has ended. Whether it's a bad experience or an event full of happiness - all these can affect your brain and how you would feel about future life events.
Mapping Was Done During The Study To See What's Going On In The Brain
In a study published in Nature, neuroscientists mapped what's going on in the brain. The researchers assigned participants to look at images: the first group was shown images that arouse emotions, and then neutral ones after. The second group was shown neutral images first, then emotional images afterward. After six hours, the participants were asked to see how well they remember what they have seen.
Those who were shown the emotional images first were able to sharply recall the neural images compared to those who saw the neutral images first, WebMD reported. Brain scan shows this is because the emotionally provoking images caused the brains to remember things more effectively.
Participants Who Viewed Emotional Images First Had Better Memory
The researchers found that the brain states linked with emotional experiences carried over for about 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the subjects processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.
Senior author, Lila Davachi from New York University's Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, said: "How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience but is also strongly influenced by our internal states. And these internal states can persist and color future experiences."
Davachi also said that memory for non-emotional events are better after an emotional event is encountered. "These findings make clear that our cognition [thinking] is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time," Davachi concluded.