"Meaningful or emotional events can selectively preserve memory for previously encountered information that seemed insignificant at that time," said study lead author Joseph Dunsmoor, post-doctoral fellow  at New York University.

In a series of experiments, the team examined the fate of seemingly inconsequential information that was, or was not, later made more meaningful - with the aim of understanding it and how past memories are updated with new emotional learning.

Participants were asked to identify a series of images of animals and tools .However, upon being shown one category of images - either animals or tools - they received a mild shock to make one category of images emotionally meaningful.

Memory was then tested for all the images seen during the experiment. Those who received the shock while viewing animal images were better able to recall those images than images of the tools which they saw without the shock.

In a nutshell, emotional learning can lead to the strengthening of older memories, concluded the study that appeared in the journal Nature.


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