Mood-dependent memory


Mood dependence is the facilitation of memory when mood at retrieval is identical to the mood at encoding, or the process of memory. When a human encodes a memory, he or she not only records the visual and other sensory data, he also stores his mood and emotional states. A persons present mood thus will affect the memories that are most easily available to her, such that when she is in a good mood she recalls good memories (and vice versa). The associative nature of memory also means that one tends to store happy memories in a linked set. Different from mood-congruent memory, mood-dependent memory occurs where the congruence of current mood with the mood at the time of memory storage helps to recall the memory. Thus, the likelihood of remembering an event is higher when encoding and recall moods match up. However, it seems that only authentic moods have the power to produce these mood-dependent effects.[1]


Theories of emotion

Mood is defined as a state or quality of feeling at a particular time.[2] When attempting to discover the biological factors that influence mood, it is difficult to find scientific proofs. The psychological study of the mind is built on theories. However, much has been discovered in the study of the brain. The following are a few theories and areas of study of the mind used to further our knowledge of the mind.

Somatic theories

See also Somatic theories

Somatic theories of emotion claim that bodily responses are essential to emotions, rather than judgements. In the 1880s, William James provided the first modern version of such theories.[3] The James–Lange theory, seen by many as his masterwork, lost favor in the 20th century, but has regained popularity more recently due largely to theorists such as John Cacioppo, António Damásio, Joseph E. LeDoux and Robert Zajonc who are able to appeal to neurological evidence.

Neurobiological theories

See also Neurobiological theories

Based on discoveries made through neural mapping of the limbic system, the neurobiological explanation of human emotion is that emotion is a pleasant or unpleasant mental state organized in the limbic system of the mammalian brain. If distinguished from reactive responses of reptiles, emotions would then be mammalian elaborations of general vertebrate arousal patterns, in which neurochemicals (for example, dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin) step-up or step-down the brain's activity level, as visible in body movements, gestures, and postures. This hypothesis that synaptic plasticity is an important part of the neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory is now widely accepted.[4]

Cognitive theories

See also Cognitive theories

In cognitive psychology, the human mind is seen to be a structured system for handling information.[5] Several theories argue that cognitive activities such as judgments, evaluations, or thoughts are necessary for an emotion to occur. Richard Lazarus argues this by saying it is necessary to capture the fact that emotions are about something or have intentionality. Such cognitive activity may be conscious or unconscious and may or may not take the form of conceptual processing.

Written in 1958, Donald Eric Broadbent's Perception and Communication was the first book entirely devoted to human information processing. This book introduced the notion of several distinct kinds of storage systems (memories) of limited capacity and of attention as a mechanism for filtering incoming information.

Internal versus external events

Internal events occur in the human mind. These occurrences of cognition are visible only to the person who experiences them. External events are physical occurrences experienced in a humans environment. These events effect the mood of an individual depending on how he or she perceives the action. These can include receiving a gift, encountering a friend, etc. In Eich and Metcalfe's article, the results suggest that internal events, such as imagination and reasoning, are less likely than external events to be remembered after mood shift.[6] There were four different experiments that were conducted in order to come about this conclusion. For each experiment, it was divided into two sections of an encoding session and a retrieval session. The subjects were asked to fill out a grid, describing their current mood. Then they were taken into a room to listen to classical music that could instigate either happiness or sadness, while at the same time filling out a grid that enabled them to express how they were feeling and to keep their mind working.

Through these four experiments, there was somewhat of a variation between each one as to how the experiment was conducted. There are four points that were discovered from these experiments. First, events are generated through internal processes that are more connected to one's mood rather than from external processes.[7] The second point is that although the source of an event seems to play a part in the occurrence of mood dependent memory, it is not the only factor that matters. In fact, there is an emphasis on how memory is determined based on the manner in which retention is measured.[8] Next, the strength and stability of moods that impair memory must meet two conditions: the shift must be substantial, and the mood at the start must be the same when it ends in encoding or retrieval.[9] The final point to be considered is the relationship between mood and arousal. If mood is dependent on arousal, then the mood corresponds to a subjective state which describes mood dependent memory.[10]

Mood congruence versus mood dependence

There is a definitive difference in mood congruence and mood dependence.[11] In Lewis and Critchley's article, they discuss the difference in these memory effects. Mood congruence is when one can match an emotion to a specific memory. Mood dependence, on the other hand, is the sorting of memory when mood at retrieval is the same as encoding. After using others' research, Lewis and Critchley came to the conclusion that there is neural basis for the influence of mood at encoding and that this influence at the base relates to activity of emotion specific regions of the brain.[12] One model they propose is the semantic-network approach, which suggests that 'emotion-specific memory nodes connect many related aspects of an emotion, such as autonomic responses, expressive behaviours, and description of situations that might evoke the emotion'.[13] Within this model, two assumptions may be made: remembering certain information while in a specific mood leads to responsiveness in the emotional system that corresponds to that particular mood and mood at retrieval influences ones' emotions.[14] This relates to mood-dependent memory because it may suggest that ones' mood at encoding could become associated with neutral information. It may also imply the activity of emotions, triggered by mood at retrieval, could propagate to the nodes with the same mood at encoding.

Lewis and Critchley, however, state that the semantic-network approach is weak for three reasons. First, though emotions retrieve past information, one cannot decipher between positive and negative moods in this particular approach. Second, it is unclear as to positive and negative moods at recall lead to activity in a positive or negative way in the emotions. Lastly, researchers cannot prove that emotional activity due to mood could interact with emotional activity associated with remembrance.[15] For these reasons, the semantic-network approach is not as reliable as researchers would have hoped.

Music-dependent memory

Music-dependent memory is an effect of mood-dependent memory. There have been many studies conducted that have proven that the music one listens to may affect their mood. In Balch and Lewis’ article, they studied how the subjects’ mood was affected by the change in tempo of the same musical piece. The subjects were each given a list of words to read while music playing in the background, with varying tempos distributed randomly. The participants were then asked to recall all the words they had read previously. Balch and Lewis found that the subjects were able to remember more words when the tempo did not change. This same experiment was composed in different ways: with a change in timbre, a different song playing, or silence with no music at all. However, none of these experiments returned results that the different aspects of the music affected the memory of the participants. Change in tempo seemed to be the only thing that influenced the participants’ memories, as opposed to other dimensions of musicality. There is still much research being done concerning music-dependent memory.[16]

See also


  1. ^ Mood Memory. In Retrieved from
  2. ^ Mood. In Retrieved from
  3. ^ William James. (2000). In Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy online. Retrieved from
  4. ^ R. G. M. Morris, E. I. Moser, G. Riedel, S. J. Martin, J. Sandin, M. Day, and C. O'Carroll (2003). Elements of a neurobiological theory of the hippocampus: the role of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in memory [Abstract]. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(1), 54–58
  5. ^ Neisser, U. (2009). cognitive psychology. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from Grolier Online
  6. ^ Eich, E. and Metcalfe, J. (1989). Mood-dependent memory for internal versus external events. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15. 3.
  7. ^ Eich, E. and Metcalfe, J. (1989). Mood-dependent memory for internal versus external events. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15. 3.
  8. ^ Eich, E. and Metcalfe, J. (1989). Mood-dependent memory for internal versus external events. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15. 3.
  9. ^ Eich, E. and Metcalfe, J. (1989). Mood-dependent memory for internal versus external events. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15. 3.
  10. ^ Eich, E. and Metcalfe, J. (1989). Mood-dependent memory for internal versus external events. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15. 3.
  11. ^ Lewis, P. & Critchley, H. (2003). Mood-dependent memory. Elsevier. Retrieved from
  12. ^ Lewis, P. & Critchley, H. (2003). Mood-dependent memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
  13. ^ Lewis, P. & Critchley, H. (2003). Mood-dependent memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
  14. ^ Lewis, P. & Critchley, H. (2003). Mood-dependent memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
  15. ^ Lewis, P. & Critchley, H. (2003). Mood-dependent memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
  16. ^ Balch, W. & Lewis, B. (1996). Music-Dependent Memory: The Roles of Tempo Change and Mood Mediation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 22(6), 1354–1363.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Context-dependent memory — refers to improved recall of specific episodes or information when the context present at encoding and retrieval are the same. One particularly common example of context dependence at work occurs when an individual has lost an item (e.g. lost car …   Wikipedia

  • Memory errors — Memory gaps and errors refer to the incorrect recall, or complete loss, of information in the memory system for a specific detail and/or event. Memory errors may include remembering events that never occurred, or remembering them differently from …   Wikipedia

  • Memory disorder — Memory can be defined as an organism s ability to encode, retain, and recall information. Disorders of memory can range from mild to severe, yet are all a result of damage to neuroanatomical structures; either in part or in full. This damage… …   Wikipedia

  • Memory improvement — The hippocampus regulates memory function. Memory improvement is the act of improving one s memory. Medical research of memory deficits and age related memory loss has resulted in new explanations and treatment techniques to improve memory,… …   Wikipedia

  • Mood disorder — Classification and external resources ICD 10 F30 F39 ICD 9 …   Wikipedia

  • Mood management theory — posits that the consumption of messages, particularly entertaining messages, is capable of altering prevailing mood states, and that the selection of specific messages for consumption often serves the regulation of mood states (Zillmann, 1988a).… …   Wikipedia

  • Encoding (memory) — Memory has the ability to encode, store and recall information. Memories give an organism the capability to learn and adapt from previous experiences as well as build relationships. Encoding allows the perceived item of use or interest to be… …   Wikipedia

  • Emotion and memory — For emotional memory in Stanislavski s system of acting, see Affective memory. Psychology Cognitive psychology …   Wikipedia

  • List of memory biases — In psychology and cognitive science, a memory bias is a cognitive bias that either enhances or impairs the recall of a memory (either the chances that the memory will be recalled at all, or the amount of time it takes for it to be recalled, or… …   Wikipedia

  • Effects of stress on memory — The effects of stress on memory include interference with one’s capacity to encode and ability retrieve information.[1] When stress occurs, the body reacts by secreting stress hormones into the blood stream. Over secretion of stress hormones most …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.