Bringing to mind the best and worst: The role of emotion in memory and imagination
Abstract: Memory is a record of our history. This record contains the narrative of our lives, grounding us in who we are. A wealth of data shows that memories are tuned towards the emotionally significant, thereby optimizing our survival and well being. But the relationship between emotion and memory is complex and multifaceted. In the first part of my talk, I will discuss my work on the dynamic relationship between emotion and memory. I will particularly focus on how emotion colors the way we remember the temporal unfolding of events. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss the interplay between emotion, memory, and imagination. As important as our memories are, humans spend only a minority of time reminiscing about the past—the majority of our thoughts involve imagining and fantasizing about experiences we have never had. The pieces of such imaginings are drawn from memory, but the product is something new. In doing so, we use our mind’s eye to paint a picture of the best and worst possible outcomes that we might face, allowing us to plan and predict what is to come. In both parts of my talk, I address how humans harness emotional experiences—from memory and from imagination—in adaptive (and sometimes maladaptive) ways. My talk will touch on cognitive and neural perspectives.
This talk will be intepreted in ASL. Additional information about the Innovators in Cognitive Neuroscience seminar series can be found here