It pays to remember 'what made you sad'


Researchers have found that people with impaired memory feel sad even when they have forgotten what made them sad in the first place -- a finding which they claim suggests emotions and memory are not as connected as we thought.

A team, led by neuroscientist Justin Feinstein at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, showed a compilation of clips from heart-rending films to five people unable to form new memories because of damage to their hippocampus.

Ten minutes later, the researchers tested the memories of these patients and a group of five people with normal brain function.

The amnesiacs felt a lingering sadness even though they struggled to remember the simplest details of the clips, whereas those with healthy memories felt fine by then, the 'New Scientist' reported.
"I am surprised that the emotion lasted so long in amnesiacs," Feinstein said.

The team also showed the two groups a series of funny clips and found a similar pattern of responses, though the difference between the two groups was less marked. "Sadness lasts longer," Feinstein said.
The results highlight the importance of being respectful to people with Alzheimer's disease and other memory disorders, Feinstein said.

"Even if such people do not remember being on the receiving end of insensitive behaviour, they may still feel distressed -- and for longer than other people. It is also possible that using drugs or therapy to block painful memories in people with post-traumatic stress disorder may actually hamper their recovery, Feinstein said.
"By not having that memory, you might actually prolong the emotional pain," he wrote in the latest edition of the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' journal.

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