Effects of emotion on item and source memory in young and older adults

Patrick S.R. Davidson, Craig P. McFarland, Elizabeth L. Glisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Emotional experiences are easier to remember than neutral ones, but whether memory for all aspects of an experience is improved by emotion remains unclear. Some researchers have argued that the influence of emotion on memory is different for item than for source information, whereas others have argued that emotion affects both similarly. Also, whether item and source memory are affected by emotion in older people in the same way as in young people is currently unclear. We examined item and source memory for emotional and neutral materials in young and older adults. Memory for emotional items was superior to memory for neutral items, whereas there was no difference in source memory. Overall, item and source memory were poorer in older people than in young people, but emotion seemed to have a similar effect on both age groups. Although emotional content was remembered better than neutral content, this benefit did not apply to source memory. However, varying the emotionality of the source (Le., the voice in Experiment 3) improved memory for the source, and this effect was greater in young than in older people. Tone of voice had no effect on item memory in older people, but the effect was variable in the young and may depend on the extent to which the tone of voice moderates the interpretation of the content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-322
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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