Do you remember your first kiss? What about your grandma dying? Chances are you do, and that’s because emotional memories are at the core of our personal life story. Some rare moments are just incredibly intense and stand out from an otherwise repetitive existence of sleeping, eating and working. That said, daily life, too, is replete with experiences that have a personal emotional significance – such as disagreeing with someone or receiving a compliment.
Most of us are able to describe emotional memories in some detail, even after a long time, while memories of more mundane experiences and events fade away. But exactly why that is and how we actually remember remains unclear. In our new study, published in Psychological Review, we have come up with a computer model that may help to explain it.