Emotional tagging and long-term memory formation

Gal Richter-Levin, Orli Kehat, Rachel Anunu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Numerous studies support the notion that emotional arousal modulates the formation of long-term memories. The amygdala, a principal component of the emotional memory system, is involved in modulating memory storage in other brain areas according to the emotional content of an encountered event. According to the concept of emotional tagging, activation of the amygdala during emotionally arousing events "tags" the experience as important by strengthening synapses located on neurons that have just been activated in other brain regions, mainly the hippocampus. In line with this hypothesis, research has shown that activation of the amygdala by behavioral manipulations (exposing the subject to emotional content) or by electric stimulation could transform weak memories into strong, long-lasting ones. Although many studies emphasize the enhancing effect of amygdala activation on memory consolidation, a more complex picture emerges when observing emotional arousal under different conditions. Memory consolidation may be enhanced or impaired by emotional arousal depending on such factors as the intensity of the emotional event, one’s ability to cope with it and the timing of the event. Taking these complexities into consideration advances our understanding of the neural mechanisms behind emotional tagging and can provide insight into the neurobiology of affective disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSynaptic Tagging and Capture
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Synapses to Behavior
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781493917617
ISBN (Print)9781493917600
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015.


  • Amygdale
  • Consolidation
  • Emotional tagging
  • LTP
  • STC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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