memory for events that evoke an emotional response. Emotional memories can be either implicit (nonconscious) or explicit (conscious). In laboratory studies with nonhuman animals, implicit emotional memory is demonstrated through such phenomena as conditioned fear (see avoidance conditioning) and freezing behavior; additional paradigms exist to study implicit emotional memory in humans. Explicit emotional memory is manifested when individuals reexperience the original emotions engendered by an event (e.g., terror when describing an accident, joy when describing a close family member’s wedding). Functional neuroanatomy suggests that the encoding process for implicit emotional memories centers around the amygdala in the subcortical portions of the limbic system, and adrenergic and dopaminergic mechanisms in particular. Indeed, a person whose amygdala is damaged may calmly recall the details of a traumatic event
without showing any residual fear in relation to that event. In contrast, encoding of explicit emotional memories involves the cortical regions of the limbic system, such as the hippocampus. Emotional memory is distinct from the more general phenomenon of enhanced storage and retrieval of emotional stimuli, which for example is seen when experimental participants recall aversive nouns from a word list better than they recall neutral items. Also called affective memory.