Navigation Links
New study suggests a better way to deal with bad memories
Date:4/18/2014

What's one of your worst memories? How did it make you feel? According to psychologists, remembering the emotions felt during a negative personal experience, such as how sad you were or how embarrassed you felt, can lead to emotional distress, especially when you can't stop thinking about it.

When these negative memories creep up, thinking about the context of the memories, rather than how you felt, is a relatively easy and effective way to alleviate the negative effects of these memories, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, led by psychology professor Florin Dolcos of the Cognitive Neuroscience Group, studied the behavioral and neural mechanisms of focusing away from emotion during recollection of personal emotional memories, and found that thinking about the contextual elements of the memories significantly reduced their emotional impact.

"Sometimes we dwell on how sad, embarrassed, or hurt we felt during an event, and that makes us feel worse and worse. This is what happens in clinical depressionruminating on the negative aspects of a memory," Dolcos said. "But we found that instead of thinking about your emotions during a negative memory, looking away from the worst emotions and thinking about the context, like a friend who was there, what the weather was like, or anything else non-emotional that was part of the memory, will rather effortlessly take your mind away from the unwanted emotions associated with that memory. Once you immerse yourself in other details, your mind will wander to something else entirely, and you won't be focused on the negative emotions as much."

This simple strategy, the study suggests, is a promising alternative to other emotion-regulation strategies, like suppression or reappraisal.

"Suppression is bottling up your emotions, trying to put them away in a box. This is a strategy that can be effective in the short term, but in the long run, it increases anxiety and depression," explains Sanda Dolcos, co-author on the study and postdoctoral research associate at the Beckman Institute and in the Department of Psychology.

"Another otherwise effective emotion regulation strategy, reappraisal, or looking at the situation differently to see the glass half full, can be cognitively demanding. The strategy of focusing on non-emotional contextual details of a memory, on the other hand, is as simple as shifting the focus in the mental movie of your memories and then letting your mind wander."

Not only does this strategy allow for effective short-term emotion regulation, but it has the possibility of lessening the severity of a negative memory with prolonged use.

In the study, participants were asked to share their most emotional negative and positive memories, such as the birth of a child, winning an award, or failing an exam, explained Sanda Dolcos. Several weeks later participants were given cues that would trigger their memories while their brains were being scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Before each memory cue, the participants were asked to remember each event by focusing on either the emotion surrounding the event or the context. For example, if the cue triggered a memory of a close friend's funeral, thinking about the emotional context could consist of remembering your grief during the event. If you were asked to remember contextual elements, you might instead remember what outfit you wore or what you ate that day.

"Neurologically, we wanted to know what happened in the brain when people were using this simple emotion-regulation strategy to deal with negative memories or enhance the impact of positive memories," explained Ekaterina Denkova, first author of the report. "One thing we found is that when participants were focused on the context of the event, brain regions involved in basic emotion processing were working together with emotion control regions in order to, in the end, reduce the emotional impact of these memories."

Using this strategy promotes healthy functioning not only by reducing the negative impact of remembering unwanted memories, but also by increasing the positive impact of cherished memories, Florin Dolcos said.

In the future, the researchers hope to determine if this strategy is effective in lessening the severity of negative memories over the long term. They also hope to work with clinically depressed or anxious participants to see if this strategy is effective in alleviating these psychiatric conditions.


'/>"/>

Contact: August Cassens
acassens@illinois.edu
217-300-4181
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Study Suggests Vaccine May Help Kids With Brain Cancer
2. Study reveals how cancer drug causes diabetic-like state
3. Coffee Drinking in Pregnancy Wont Lead to Sleepless Baby: Study
4. Lower GI problems plague many with rheumatoid arthritis, Mayo Clinic study finds
5. Veggies Like Broccoli, Cabbage May Help Fight Breast Cancer: Study
6. No Added Cancer Risk From Hip Replacement Materials: Study
7. Reported Decline in U.S. Pneumonia Deaths May Be False: Study
8. Early Study Finds Some Promise for Lung Cancer Vaccine
9. Narcissists Often Ace Job Interviews, Study Finds
10. Sexual objectification of female artists in music videos exists regardless of race, MU study finds
11. Soy may alleviate hot flashes in menopause, large-scale study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
New study suggests a better way to deal with bad memories
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... professionals, announced today its affiliation with Tennessee Counseling Association. This new ... network of the Tennessee Counseling Association, adding exclusive benefits and promotional offers. , ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, ... of the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, ... the city’s history as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 ... ... will discuss health policy issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June ... share their work on several important health care topics including advance care planning, ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Long Beach, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... from UCLA with Magna Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School ... San Diego and returned to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may suffer from ... avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To avoid this ... coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a range of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Va. , June 24, 2016 The ... set of recommendations that would allow biopharmaceutical ... (HCEI) with entities that make formulary and coverage decisions, ... the "value" of new medicines. The recommendations ... does not appear on the drug label, a prohibition ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 ... Market by Type (Standard Pen Needles, Safety Pen Needles), ... (Insulin, GLP-1, Growth Hormone), Mode of Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) ... MarketsandMarkets, This report studies the market for the forecast ... to reach USD 2.81 Billion by 2021 from USD ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  MedSource announced today that it has selected ... of choice.  This latest decision demonstrates MedSource,s commitment ... clients by offering a state-of-the-art electronic data capture ... as the EDC platform of choice in exchange ... has long been a preferred EDC platform by ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: