Could anxiety actually help you remember you something better? A new research study says that this may, in fact, be the case. The 2017 study done by Christopher Lee and Myra A. Fernandes found that the initial encoding context a person has is capable of influencing how a person remembers that information at a later date. The basics of this study found that if people have higher anxiety they are more likely to have negative emotions and thoughts. These negative feelings will put the individual in a negative mind frame which in turn makes certain events or stimuli more memorable.
The study found that the participants who had anxiety developed a downstream bias in their encoding and also in the retrieval process of information. The researchers mentioned that there have been previous studies that have found that high anxiety levels can have a negative impact on people cognitive functions. For this study, the participants were all people who could manage their anxiety to the point where it would no become crippling and debilitating to them. The researchers also mentioned that their study was completed with traditionally college-aged individuals and that the results might differ depending on the age group being tested.
This article personally interested me because there are times where I am able to remember a memory about a negative event that happened to me years ago. I have always wondered why I am capable of remembering it even though the event was insignificant when I look back at it. It feels like I am able to remember it perfectly and like I am able to watch the replay of the event in my head. But then when it comes to positive memories, I am less able to remember all the details about the event. I know my mother is able to remember the time in her childhood when she accidentally pushed her best friend off a wall and her friend broke her arm. It has been over 50 years since this event happened but she says she is still able to remember all of it. But when asked about going to school dances with her friends, she is unable to fully remember all the details.
This article helped me better understand why those pesky negative memories sometimes pop up in our heads at random times.
Lee, C., & Fernandes, M. A. (2018). Emotional Encoding Context Leads to Memory Bias in Individuals with High Anxiety. Brain Sciences, 8(1), 6. http://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8010006
Nierenberg, C. (2018, March 01). How a Little Bit of Anxiety May Improve Your Memory. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/61898-anxiety-memory.html