DECLARATIVE & EMOTIONAL MEMORY
These two memory-processing brain functions are distinctly different from one another, though they work together. The emotional memory stores and processes the unconscious information of what has happened to us and how we felt about it. Fear conditioning and other emotional learning from our experiences is unconsciously processed here, and then it sends the relevant information to the declarative memory to be recorded as truth.
We don't always have direct access to the emotional memories, but they strongly influence our conscious declarative memory. We have responses to the emotional memory, physically and behaviorally. This response information is compared to current declared facts, creating new declarative memories. The declarative memory records what is real. This is the memory we are consciously accessing. There might be emotional information stored here, but it is recognized as fact. This processing between two memory systems is happening throughout REM Sleep, deciding which emotional memories need to be learned from and recorded as truth.
"For example, if a person is injured in an auto accident, in which the horn gets stuck, he or she may later react when hearing the blare of car horns. The person may remember the details of the accident, such as where and when it occurred and who was involved. These are declarative memories that are dependent on the hippo-campus. The individual may also become tense, anxious and depressed as the emotional memory is reactivated." Says Joseph E. LeDoux, the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at the New York University.
Credit-Emotion, Memory, and the Brain by Joseph E. LeDoux COPYRIGHT 2002 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC. Updated from the June 1994 issue
Photo courtesy of NASA, ESA, CXC, and JPL-Caltech.