Anxiety may come with a silver lining, a new study suggests: Feeling anxious in a new situation may help you remember it more vividly.
Too much anxiety, though, can have the opposite effect, by impairing recall and causing people to remember neutral details in a negative light.
The new study, published in the journal Brain Sciences, serves as reassurance that a little bit of nervousness can be a good thing, says co-author Myra Fernandes, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “It gives you a heightened sense of awareness and makes you attuned to details you wouldn’t be otherwise,” she says. “That’s a plus if you’re trying to remember something later.”
But it also shows that anxiety can color the lens through which people remember events, interactions and conversations from their past, Fernandes says. When anxiety levels get high enough, she adds, it can cause people to withdraw from their surroundings rather than than taking in and storing memories about them.
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