What Is a Flashbulb Memory?

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A flashbulb memory is a vivid and concrete memory that is created in the brain when a person experiences or learns of emotional, shocking events. People tend to remember very specific details of flashbulb memories.

Flashbulb memories result from the discovery of a shocking event. People remember very clear details about the situation surrounding the event, such as where they were at the time and what they were doing when the event occurred. Emotional arousal tied to the event increases one’s ability to recall the details. Details flashbulb memories are less likely to be forgotten over time than regular memories. Common flashbulb memories for many Americans include their recollections of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 9/11 attacks.