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In the News

Psychology In The News: Post Concert Amnesia

Rosey Gardiner-Earl

25th March 2024

As the nights get lighter your thoughts may well be turning to summer gigs – maybe you are lucky enough to have a ticket to see Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour or are looking forward to seeing your favourite artist at a festival. However, recent reports in the news suggest that you may not remember as much of your long-anticipated gig experience as you might like, with music fans reporting ‘post-concert amnesia’.

One Swiftie, Jenna Tocatlian, who saw the star perform her favourite song ‘Better Man’ in Massachusetts said, ‘If I didn’t have the 5-minute video that my friend kindly took of me jamming to it, I probably would have told everyone that it didn’t happen’. Tocatlian thinks she found it difficult to grasp that the show was happening.

However, psychological research can suggest several reasons for this form of forgetting. Firstly, people’s levels of excitement may be too high. This can happen when we are in a highly charged emotional state. As the body’s stress levels increase, the neurons which are associated with forming a memory fire indiscriminately and this can make new memory formation difficult, particularly if we go ‘over the edge’ in terms of levels of excitement. If we can keep ourselves in a state where we are slightly excited, this leads to the formation of better memories. This phenomenon can be explained by the ‘inverted U hypothesis’ or Yerkes Dodson Law.

Psychologists also believe that high levels of excitement can trigger the body’s fight or flight response, designed to prepare our body physiologically to fight or run away from a threat such as an attacking animal. The fight or flight response involves glucose being released into the bloodstream to maximise energy supplies to the muscles for this survival response, rather than being wasted on memory formation.

Both responses are heightened with caffeine and alcohol, making it even harder to form long-lasting memories of the event you are experiencing.

So, if we know what causes us to have less-than-desirable memories of an event, how can we use this to improve our memories?

One way in which you can try to remember an important event is to practise relaxation techniques beforehand, or even just tell yourself to relax and enjoy the experience. Alternatively, you can think about what your physical behaviour is telling your brain. If you are screaming at a concert, this tells your body that you might be afraid, making it more likely to trigger the fight or flight response. If you commit to standing still and not screaming, your brain receives the message that there is no threat, and this makes memory formation more likely.

Ultimately, you probably just want to focus on enjoying yourself and living in the moment, but if you cannot remember every detail in the way you wish, you now have some insight as to why this might be!


  1. Use your knowledge of the Yerkes-Dodson law (inverted U hypothesis) to explain why people might forget their gig experiences.
  2. Use your knowledge of retrieval failure due to the absence of cues to explain why people may not always remember their gig experiences.
  3. Some psychologists believe that our bodies enter the ‘fight or flight’ response when we become over-aroused, for example at a gig. Outline the fight or flight response.
  4. What is the disadvantage of the fight or flight response?
  5. Imagine you conducted an experiment to test the inverted-U hypothesis in relation to memory for exciting events. Outline one way you might operationalise 'excitement' and measure memory in your study.


Why You Can’t Remember That Taylor Swift Concert All Too Well (accessed 12.2.24)

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Rosey Gardiner-Earl

Rosey has 15 years of experience teaching Psychology and has worked as both a Subject and Senior Leader in school and large sixth form setting. Rosey is also an experienced A level Psychology examiner.

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