Multiple routes to enhanced memory for emotionally relevant events

Nina Rouhani, Yael Niv, Michael J. Frank, Lars Schwabe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Events associated with aversive or rewarding outcomes are prioritized in memory. This memory boost is commonly attributed to the elicited affective response, closely linked to noradrenergic and dopaminergic modulation of hippocampal plasticity. Herein we review and compare this ‘affect’ mechanism to an additional, recently discovered, ‘prediction’ mechanism whereby memories are strengthened by the extent to which outcomes deviate from expectations, that is, by prediction errors (PEs). The mnemonic impact of PEs is separate from the affective outcome itself and has a distinct neural signature. While both routes enhance memory, these mechanisms are linked to different – and sometimes opposing – predictions for memory integration. We discuss new findings that highlight mechanisms by which emotional events strengthen, integrate, and segment memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-882
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • arousal
  • aversive learning
  • emotion
  • memory
  • prediction error
  • reward learning


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