Experiences which make the most impact on our feelings will have strong effects on future events, says a new study.

Before arriving at this conclusion, researchers from New York University assigned participants to look at a series of images.

One group was first shown images that aroused emotion, and then neutral ones while the other group were first shown the neutral images, then the emotional ones.

Six hours later, the participants were tested to see how well they remembered what they saw.

Those who were first exposed to images that provoked emotion had sharper recall of the neutral images than those who saw neutral images first, the study found.

“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 colour future experiences,” said Lila Davachi, senior author of the study.

Davachi, an associate professor at the department of psychology and center for neural science, added that, “we see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event.”

“These findings make clear that our cognition [thinking] is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time,” she concluded.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.



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