Another Hangover to Worry About

'Emotional hangovers' can shape future memories, study shows
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2016 6:03 AM CST
Another Hangover to Worry About
'Emotional hangovers' caused by sad or happy experiences can affect memory in the future, a study found.   (mikkelwilliam/Getty Images)

With more holiday revelry looming, the last thing we need to worry about is another type of hangover. But odds are we've already experienced a phenomenom called "emotional hangover." That's the name neuroscientists have given to that heartsick feeling that trails painful experiences or the euphoria we feel after a happy occurrence. Now a new study shows that emotional episodes can have a long-term effect on the brain and can shape how we remember future experiences, Forbes reports. "'Emotion' is a state of mind," lead author Lila Davachi says in a news release. "These findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time." For the study, researchers showed one group of participants emotional images followed by neutral images, and reversed the order for another group.

Writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the authors say those who saw the emotional pictures first were more likely to recall the images that followed. "We see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event," says Davachi. Brain scans backed up the findings. While it is known that certain regions of the brain—the amygdala, hippocampus, and medial temporal lobe—are linked to emotional memory, the study found these regions were stimulated longer than previously thought, per the International Business Times. One takeaway, says Davachi, is that the study suggests emotion helps shape how we "see the world." (This ice cream is made for hangovers.)

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