Jared Cooney Horvath is a globally recognized Science of Learning expert committed to helping teachers, students and parents achieve better outcomes through applied brain and behavioral science.

Emotions and Memory

The question of how our moods and emotions affect our memory has intrigued educators and cognitive psychologists for decades.


And, at this point, we have mountains of research demonstrating that emotions do indeed have a major impact on memory functions -- from encoding (memory formation), to consolidation, to retrieval.


We also know that emotionally charged memories generally last longer; and that there's a strong correlation between the mood a person is in when a memory is formed, and the mood that best supports future recall of that memory:

For instance, let’s say you were really happy at your sixteenth birthday party. In this case, it will be easiest for you to recall memories of this event during future moments when you feel happy.


On the other hand, if you were really sad at your party, the opposite will hold true -- it will be easiest for you to recall this event during future periods of sadness.


But here’s the interesting thing …


The vast majority of existing research on this particular topic has dealt with episodic memories, which are memories of specific events and experiences (e.g. where you were at when 9/11 occurred). 


However, very little research has been done on the relationship between moods/emotions and semantic memories, which are knowledge of general facts and concepts (e.g. the year 9/11 occurred in).

In this installment of ‘From Theory to Practice’, I examine a Mar-2020 research article that deals with this very issue:


The Effects of Mood and Retrieval Cues on Semantic Memory and Metacognition (Amanda Hall et al, March 2020). LINK: https://www.researchgate.net/publicat...


Here are some of the questions I tackle in this video:

  • How do episodic and semantic memories differ?

  • How do our moods/emotions impact our ability to retrieve memories … both episodic and semantic?

  • What are the key takeaways from this article for teachers and students (Hint: You may change the way you use no-and-low stakes quizzes going forward)?

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the comments.


And, as always, if you find this video valuable, interesting and/or entertaining, you can support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our YouTube channel ;)



Video Transcript

Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's From Theory to Practice, where I take a look at the research so you don't have to.


The article I've selected this week is ‘The Effects of Mood and Retrieval Cues on Semantic Memory and Metacognition’ by Hall and colleagues.


Now, to wrap our heads around this article, we've got to understand that memory comes in many different styles and flavors.


And, two in particular are what we call episodic memories and semantic memories …

Click to view remainder of the transcript ...

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