Table of Contents
Advances in Neuroscience
Volume 2014, Article ID 964024, 9 pages
Research Article

The Potentiation of Associative Memory by Emotions: An Event-Related FMRI Study

1Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Verdun, QC, Canada H4H 1R3
2Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada H1N 3M5
3Department of Psychiatry, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3T 1J4
4Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 2T5

Received 30 April 2014; Revised 18 August 2014; Accepted 20 August 2014; Published 14 September 2014

Academic Editor: Jan Gläscher

Copyright © 2014 David Luck et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Establishing associations between pieces of information is related to the medial temporal lobe (MTL). However, it remains unclear how emotions affect memory for associations and, consequently, MTL activity. Thus, this event-related fMRI study attempted to identify neural correlates of the influence of positive and negative emotions on associative memory. Twenty-five participants were instructed to memorize 90 pairs of standardized pictures during a scanned encoding phase. Each pair was composed of a scene and an unrelated object. Trials were neutral, positive, or negative as a function of the emotional valence of the scene. At the behavioral level, participants exhibited better memory retrieval for both emotional conditions relative to neutral trials. Within the right MTL, a functional dissociation was observed, with entorhinal activation elicited by emotional associations, posterior parahippocampal activation elicited by neutral associations, and hippocampal activation elicited by both emotional and neutral associations. In addition, emotional associations induced greater activation than neutral trials in the right amygdala. This fMRI study shows that emotions are associated with the performance improvement of associative memory, by enhancing activity in the right amygdala and the right entorhinal cortex. It also provides evidence for a rostrocaudal specialization within the MTL regarding the emotional valence of associations.