The article picked in this essay is that of rapid eye movement’s role in emotional memories processing. The article refers to earlier done research and also presents a research recently done to investigate the purpose REM sleep plays in retention of emotional memories.
In order to access the article, I went to the http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/, I then clicked on the arrow at the databases by subject list and picked psychology, next I select PsycINFO, I ticked the peer reviewed sources only box so as to limit the search and also selected the last 3 years option to further narrow down the search, I then picked journals and searched for sleep and emotional the keywords being emotion and sleep and clicked search. I picked the first on the list and downloaded it. Below is a brief summary of the article I picked.
As suggested in the name rapid eye movement during this time when an individual is sleeping the eyes tend to move rapidly. Rapid eye movement sleep happens during slow wave sleep (SWS). Various studies have been done on the effect of rapid eye movement sleep to the retention of emotional memories.
Emotional memories are easier to remember seen they often evoke a physical response, subjective feelings or behaviors such as avoidance or approach that may reoccur when one is remembering. In lay man’s terms, it is easier to forget what someone said than to forget how someone made you feel.
Emotional memory is composed of two components the affective component that over time develops and the memory information that is about the event that was experienced. The notion that REM sleep is helpful in the retention of emotional memories was first suggested by Sigmund Freud. He proposed that rapid eye movement sleep which may be known as dream sleep possibly has a cathartic effect on emotions thereby it is part of the process of processing emotional memories. A recent model released shows that rapid eye movement sleep will retain the event emotional content while lowering the associated affective tag. The emotional representations that implicate the amygdala in REM sleep are usually reactivated since there is no noradrenergic activity that causes arousal when an emotional event is being encoded.
Studies that investigate the role of REM sleep in the storage of emotional memories have been criticized for failing to consider that aspect of emotionality and memory content could be influenced differentially (Vertes and Eastman, 2000). The issue of whether rapid eye movement sleep is essential in the present day since it can enable us to develop ways to improve our memory if it is confirmed.
Also, I would be helpful to know what influences the storage of emotional memories since the findings can be used to treat certain disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that causes various symptoms such as nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety to individuals who have experienced intense emotional trauma.
In conclusion, sleep has numerous benefits, but they differ depending on what kind of sleep it is. REM sleep has been shown to play a part in the processing of emotional memories and to heighten their retention. However, the studies conducted on the issue of REM sleep and processing of emotional memories have not been concluded. More research ought to be done to find out how REM sleep and emotional memories processing are correlated.
Vertes, R.P. and Eastman, K.E. (2000). The case against memory consolidation in REM sleep. Behav. Brain Sci. 5:21-180.