Emotional arousal and multiple memory systems in the mammalian brain. Academic Article uri icon


  • Emotional arousal induced by stress and/or anxiety can exert complex effects on learning and memory processes in mammals. Recent studies have begun to link study of the influence of emotional arousal on memory with earlier research indicating that memory is organized in multiple systems in the brain that differ in terms of the "type" of memory they mediate. Specifically, these studies have examined whether emotional arousal may have a differential effect on the "cognitive" and stimulus-response "habit" memory processes sub-served by the hippocampus and dorsal striatum, respectively. Evidence indicates that stress or the peripheral injection of anxiogenic drugs can bias animals and humans toward the use of striatal-dependent habit memory in dual-solution tasks in which both hippocampal and striatal-based strategies can provide an adequate solution. A bias toward the use of habit memory can also be produced by intra-basolateral amygdala (BLA) administration of anxiogenic drugs, consistent with the well documented role of efferent projections of this brain region in mediating the modulatory influence of emotional arousal on memory. In some learning situations, the bias toward the use of habit memory produced by emotional arousal appears to result from an impairing effect on hippocampus-dependent cognitive memory. Further research examining the neural mechanisms linking emotion and the relative use of multiple memory systems should prove useful in view of the potential role for maladaptive habitual behaviors in various human psychopathologies.

published proceedings

  • Front Behav Neurosci

altmetric score

  • 21.8

author list (cited authors)

  • Packard, M. G., & Goodman, J.

citation count

  • 84

complete list of authors

  • Packard, Mark G||Goodman, Jarid

publication date

  • April 2012