Why bad experiences are remembered out of context

Bad experiences can cause people to strongly remember the negative content itself but only weakly remember the surrounding context, and a new UCL study funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust has revealed how this happens in the brain. The study, published in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, has important implications for understanding conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. “When we presented people with negative content alongside neutral content, the brain areas involved in storing the negative content were more active while those involved in storing the surrounding context were less active,” explains lead author Dr James Bisby (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience). “When we experience a new event, we not only store the contents of the event in memory, such as the people we met, but we…

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