New York University
Department of Psychology
New York University
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2007-2012
University of ZÜrich, Switzerland
PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience, 2006
University of TÜbingen, Germany
International Max Planck Research School
Master in Behavioral and Neural Sciences, 2002
University of Konstanz, Germany and Wesleyan University, USA
Bachelor of Science in Biology, 2000
Were where you when you heard about the terrorist attack on the world trade center? Can you remember receiving your high school diploma, your first kiss? Very likely you are able to remember these emotional events. Emotions have a profound impact on what we learn and keep in mind. Why is this the case? What are the mechanisms that lead to better memory for emotional compared to neutral events? And how may these emotional memories change over time?
The aim of my research is to characterize and understand the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the effects of emotion on various stages of memory, i.e. memory encoding, memory storage, memory retrieval and additional storage processes after retrieval. To address the question how emotion influences these memory stages, I take a synergistic approach trying to integrate the neurobiological level with the cognitive level using a combination of various methods. I am using functional imaging, for example, in order to scrutinize the brain mechanisms that may be linked to better memory storage for emotional events. Or, in previous studies, I was able to show that decreasing stress hormone levels with a specific medication leads to an impairment in memory retrieval that was most profound for emotional events. I am also interested in how memories for emotional events may change over time and I am working on behavioral paradigms that test whether emotional memories can be changed over time.
Better knowledge of the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of emotion and memory interactions will help to understand essential features of memory mechanisms that are relevant to teaching and education methods, and may also provide new insights into the nature of some major psychological disorders, particularly anxiety disorders and post traumatic stress disorder.
Rimmele, U., Davachi, L., Phelps, E.A. (2012). Memory for time and place contributes to enhanced confidence for memory of emotional events. Emotion 12(4), 834-46.
Rimmele, U., Lobmaier, J.S. (2012) Stress increases the feeling of being looked at. Psychoneurendocrinology 37(2), 292-298.
Rimmele, U., Davachi, L., Petrov, R., Dougal, S., Phelps, E.A. (2011). Emotion enhances the subjective feeling of remembering despite lower accuracy for contextual details. Emotion, 11(3), 553-62.
Rimmele, U., Meier, F., Lange, T., Born, J. Suppressing the morning rise in cortisol impairs free recall (2010). Learning and Memory 17, 186-190.
Rimmele, U., Hediger, K., Heinrichs, M., Klaver, P. Oxytocin makes a face in memory familiar (2009). The Journal of Neuroscience, 29(1), 38-42.
Rimmele, U., Seiler, R., Marti, B., Wirtz, P., Ehlert, U., Heinrichs, M. (2009) The level of physical activity affects adrenal and cardiovascular reactivity to and recovery from stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(2), 190-8.
Rimmele, U., Spillmann, M., Baertschi, C., Wolf, O., Ehlert, U., Wirtz, P. (2009) Melatonin improves memory acquisition under stress independent of stress hormone release. Psychopharmacology, 202(4), 663-72.
Wirtz, P., Siegerist, J., Rimmele, U., Ehlert, U. (2008) Higher overcommitment to work is associated with lower norepinephrine secretion before and after acute psychosocial stress in men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33(1), 92-9.
Rimmele, U., Zellweger, B., Marti, B., Seiler, R., Mohiyeddini, C., Ehlert, U., Heinrichs, M. (2007) Trained men show lower cortisol, heart rate and psychological responses to psychosocial stress compared with untrained men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32(6), 627-35.
Kremers, J., Rimmele, U. (2007) The spatial extent of lateral interactions in flicker perception Vision Research, 47(1), 16-21.
Domes, G., Heinrichs, M., Rimmele, U., Reichwald, U. & Hautzinger, M. (2004). Acute stress impairs recognition for positive words - association with stress-induced cortisol secretion. Stress, 7, 173-181.
Rimmele, U., Domes, G., Mathiak, K. & Hautzinger, M. (2003). Cortisol has different effects on human memory for emotional and neutral stimuli. Neuroreport, 14(18), 2485-2488.
Consultant for the OECD for the project "Understanding the Brain: Towards a New Learning Science," 2003-2007