Navigation Links
The memories you want to forget are the hardest ones to lose
Date:8/15/2007

CHAPEL HILL Painful, emotional memories that people would most like to forget may be the toughest to leave behind, especially when memories are created through visual cues, according to a new study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When youre watching the news on television and see footage of wounded soldiers in Iraq or ongoing coverage of national tragedies, it may stick with you more than a newspaper headline, said the studys lead author, Keith Payne, an assistant professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

It is adaptive to be able to intentionally forget neutral events such as wrong directions, a friends outdated phone number or a switched meeting time. Intentional forgetting helps update memory with new information, Payne said.

But Payne and former psychology graduate student Elizabeth Corrigan found that even mild emotional events, like getting a bad grade on a test or a negative comment from a coworker, can be hard to forget. Their study, Emotional constraints on intentional forgetting, appears in the September 2007 print issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

When people are trying to intentionally forget information, they need to mentally segregate that information and then block off the information they dont want to retrieve, Payne said.

Emotion undermines both of those steps. You make a lot of connections between emotional events and other parts of your life, so it might be difficult to isolate them. As far as blocking retrieval of an unwanted event, emotion makes events very salient and therefore highly accessible, Payne said.

Their results contrast with previous studies of emotional events and intentional forgetting, but those studies used emotion-laden words as stimuli, like death and sex. The UNC study took a new approach, asking 218 participants to react to photographs instead of text.

The word murder, for instance, may or may not make you afraid, but if you see a graphic, violent picture, it may be powerful enough emotionally to change the way you feel, Payne said.

The researchers found that their subjects could not intentionally forget emotional events as easily as mundane ones. They also found that both pleasant and unpleasant emotional memories were resistant to intentional forgetting.

The UNC findings contribute to understanding the ways that emotion constrains mental control and to the question of whether intentional forgetting can be helpful in coping with painful or traumatic experiences.

Our findings add to accumulating evidence that emotion places limits on the ability to control the contents of the mind, Payne said. Our results suggest that even a relatively mild emotional reaction can undermine intentional forgetting. But this doesnt necessarily mean that emotional memories can never be intentionally forgotten. If the motivation to forget is powerful enough, individuals might be able to overcome the effects of emotion by enlisting additional coping strategies.

A different study would be needed to examine what treatment and coping strategies might be effective in helping people voluntarily forget an unwanted memory, he added.


'/>"/>

Contact: Clinton Colmenares
clinton_colmenares@unc.edu
919-843-1991
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Memories change with age
2. Research Finds How Post-traumatic Stress Leads to Long-Lasting Memories
3. Peaceful Slumber said to Restore Memories
4. Humans Found To Have The Ability To Block Unwanted Memories
5. Sensitive teeth could become bad memories
6. Slow Learners Have Longer Memories
7. Memories Linked To Their Packaging In The Brain
8. Creating Memories During Sleep
9. Treat Childhood Trauma by Building on Parental Memories of Loving Care
10. Wiping Out Memories Selectively, is Possible Now
11. Memories Lost Due to Neuro-degenerative Diseases may Be Restored
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... , ... The American Board of Family Medicine's (ABFM) Board of Directors has ... succeeding Dr. James C. Puffer upon his retirement. Dr. Newton will serve in the ... at the end of 2018. Upon assuming the role of President and CEO on ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes , which specializes in ... the facility as part of a disaster drill on October 3rd. , Apple Rehab ... City Emergency Manager, as well as the Connecticut Long Term Care Mutual Aid ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The ... the most popular and least understood books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. The Book ... have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it off as mere rubbish, but ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... services for healthcare compliance program management, will showcase a range of technology and ... for Assisted Living (NCAL) Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, 2017 ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... The American College of Medical ... Friedman, PhD, FACMI, during the Opening Session of AMIA’s Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. ... honor of Morris F. Collen, a pioneer in the field of medical informatics, this ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... , Oct. 12, 2017 AVACEN Medical , ... company with their  2017 New Product Innovation Award for ... extensive primary and secondary medical device market research by Frost ... its first-to-market OTC, drug-free pain relief product, the AVACEN 100, ... to treating fibromyalgia widespread pain. ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Texas , Oct. 11, 2017  True ... services, has amplified its effort during National Breast ... about hereditary cancer risks. ... of Clinical Oncology calculated that more than 10 ... have inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 and have ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... , Oct. 5, 2017  In response ... of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) released prescribing ... – to be used as a first-line therapy ... Recognizing the ... AAOMS White Paper "Opioid Prescribing: Acute and Postoperative ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: