Women never forget...
Why is it that women never seem to forget wedding anniversaries, birthdays or arguments unlike their male partners do? Because they remember really emotional moments better!
Gentlemen, do you get the impression that your wife never forgets anything, especially the rows you've had? Ladies, do you get the impression that your husband can't remember a thing, especially those romantic moments?
These observations can perhaps be underpinned by science, based on the phenomenon of emotional memory. At least that's what an American study claims. But there is a downside to this ability: it would also explain why women are more likely to suffer from depression. Let's go into more detail...
Women have 15% more memory
Emotional memory is in fact quite simply the memories that filter into our brain through emotions, such as anger or happiness. Now apparently, this type of memory is far superior in women. That's the conclusion reached by American researchers after asking 24 guinea-pigs from both sexes.
First of all, they asked them to look at a set of 49 pictures, some of which were quite shocking (countryside scenes, but also people crying or even corpses...). At the same time, the areas of brain activity were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Then, three weeks later, the same people had to take part in a surprise memory test: they had to recognise the powerful images they'd seen the last time from amongst a set of photos (having three seconds for each).
The first set of results showed that women remembered on average 75% of the pictures compared with 60% for men.
Emotions are the key to women's memory
Scientists still don't know how this result can be explained. Howeverf, it seems that when a vivid emotion is associated with an event, women remember it more easily. Through MRI, the researchers could see that women activated lots of areas linked to emotional memory when they saw shocking images.
For the researchers, this indicates that women's brains are better organised to feel and retain emotion. On the other hand, men seemed to activate other regions of the brain, although it is not known what these correspond to...
But the scientists do stress that nothing is set in stone and that the areas activated by men, just like the ones by women, can develop with experience.
Women have a tendency to keep going back over bad memories
For Turhan Canli, professor of psychology at the University of Stony Brook in New York and main author of the study, this research is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, he thinks that generally women have a better "autobiographical" memory than men.
In a nutshell, this means that they have a better memory of all the events to do with them, whereas men do perhaps have a good memory, but more for facts that don't directly affect them.
Moreover, according to the researcher, that could explain why women are more prone to depression. They're more inclined to keep going back over bad memories and this constant mulling over contributes to depression. Men, however, find it easier to stash bad memories away.
So ladies, try harder to forget about your worries and stop going back over bad memories. And gentlemen, to avoid rows, try to remember the good occasions more often.
Source: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, July 2002
Copyright © 2010 Doctissimo
Get more on this subject…