Emotion can help us recognize words more quickly, just like the context of a sentence can. But a new paper about the role of emotion in word recognition memory says we do not remember emotionally intoned speech as accurately as neutral speech – and if we do remember the words, they have acquired an emotional value.

Words spoken with a sad voice are more negative. In anger, sadness, exhilaration or fear, speech takes on an urgency that is lacking from its normal even-tempered form – louder or softer, more hurried or delayed, etc. This emotional speech immediately captures a listener’s attention and so Annett Schirmer and colleagues from the National University of Singapore looked at whether emotion has a lasting effect on word memory.

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