Narrator: This is Science Today.
All memories are not created equal. We remember
what's emotionally important to us better than we
do day-to-day events. Neurobiologist Larry Cahill
of the University of California, Irvine says one
reason why that's so is an almond-shaped structure
in the brain called the amygdala. He and his fellow
researchers studied a patient with a diseased amygdala.
Cahill: Now if you were see him and sit down and talk to him you would have trouble finding out that anything's wrong with him.
Narrator: What's wrong is the patient's long-term memory for emotional events.
Cahill: We showed him and a bunch of controls a short story. Most people remember the emotional parts of that story better than the non-emotional parts when you give them a surprise memory test a week later. Not this patient. He remembered the relatively non-emotional parts of the story just fine. But what he didn't do was show the enhanced memory associated with emotion that you and I would.
Narrator: Cahill says that's strong evidence that you need your amygdala to get boosted emotional memories. For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.