Neural regions, specifically the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex overlap in functions of emotion and memory, indicating a degree of interrelatedness between the two functions. Lesions in medial temporal lobe regions result in an impairment of memory processes specific to emotional stimuli. Additionally, amygdala activity is increased for all valence memory as opposed to neutral. Arousal levels of high and low valence memories affect the pathway for encoding in the brain, and determine the vividness and episodic detail with which a memory will be recorded. The amygdala-hippocampal network is involved in high arousal memory, while a prefrontal cortex-hippocampal network is involved in low arousal. Because of the different neural pathways, negative memory is better remembered, while positive memory is better known. Males and females display the same abilities in working memory, yet have differing neural pathways. Because males' memory networks are more associated with the prefrontal cortex, they have better cognitive control than females for emotional events. Some suggest that because of the implications of a prefrontal vs. amygdala memory encoding, emotional regulation at the onset may be key to preventing traumatic memories from ever developing. Further research should be done in defining the link between emotional and memory processing, to better understand and provide therapy for various neurological disorders.
Berkowitz, N. (2013). The Effects of Emotional Experiences on Memory Processing. The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences, 7 (1). Retrieved from http://touroscholar.touro.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1096&context=sjlcas