I have little, VERY little, memories of my childhood or adolescence – or adulthood for that matter. It concerned me when a therapist colleague said that was an indication of repressed memory of probably horrible childhood trauma. Ai yiiii yiiiiii. Maybe I was beaten, or worse, and all these years believing I had nice parents.
I told a psychiatrist friend about my memory “affliction” thinking he would suggest decades of psycho-analysis at best and in-patient treatment at worst. He looked passively at me and without the slightest hesitation said, “All that indicates is your childhood was boring.”
This is one of my aha moments that I DO remember and spurred me to investigate the neuro-biology of emotion. What does that have to do with hang-over? Read on!
You already know without a doubt that most of your memories are ones that were highly emotional experiences.
“Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of New York University scientists has found. This study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also shows that this emotional “hangover” influences how we attend to and remember future experiences.”
“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,” explains Lila Davachi, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and senior author of the study.”
“‘Emotion’ is a state of mind, . . . 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.”’
” . . . data showed that the brain states associated with emotional experiences carried over for 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the subjects processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.”
“We see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event,” observes Davachi.
I’m so relieved! Not only wasn’t I beaten . . . or worse . . . the biggest hang-over I’ve experienced was the news I’ve led an exceptionally boring life.