Why Do We Remember Some Things Better Than Other Things? (VIDEO)

Why do we recall some things better than other things? In other words, why does memory appear random?

"It's probably not random," asserts Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, in an interview with BigThink.com. "It's just that [most people] don't always understand what makes one experience more memorable than another."

The key to understanding this phenomenon, he says, is to realize the fundamental role that emotion plays in memory formation.

For example, think about what you were doing when you heard about the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Now think about what you were doing on the morning of Sept. 10, 2001.

You probably remember the former experience in much greater detail than the latter. Why? Because "any time we experience something in a heightened emotional state, we're more likely to remember it," Dr. Small says.