Navigation Links
The memories you want to forget are the hardest ones to lose

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It is adaptive to be able to intentionally forget neutral events such as wrong directions, a friends outdated phone number or a switched meeting time.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
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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:
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, ... ... (AIS) is pleased to announce the speakers for “Value-Based Payer-Provider Partnerships: Three ... learned from three innovative value-based care arrangements: Essentia Health and UCare, MissionPoint ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Vasont Systems, a top component ... (VUI) extension unites with Syncro Soft’s latest software update, oXygen XML editor Version ... with the latest release of oXygen® XML editor and the Vasont® CCMS. ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Scott Newman MD, FACS ... select few plastic surgeons in the New York City area to utilize the ... world’s first heat-induced laser treatment for fat loss in the abdomen, flanks, and ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... TransPack Volume 6 features 30 customizable ... from scrolling web-styled transitions to wipes with blur & drop shadow options. Utilize ... Seamlessly transition from one clip to the next with TransPack's easily customizable styles. ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... strategic partnership at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 2015 conference. ... providers of cutting-edge dictation and speech-enabled documentation software, announced their partnership today ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... iCAD, Inc. (Nasdaq: ICAD ) ... solutions for advanced image analysis and workflow tools ... Radiological Society of North American (RSNA) 2015 Annual ... November 29 to December 4, 2015. The company ... automated breast density assessment solution, PowerLook® Advanced Mammography ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... SALT LAKE CITY , Nov. 30, 2015 ... Systems (NYSE: VAR ) will exhibit a broader array ... meeting of the Radiological Society of North America ... The Varian exhibit at the meeting will feature X-ray components ... Cardinal CT tube, a line of products from Varian,s Claymount ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015  Novartis will demonstrate the strength ... th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. ... as well as supportive care, including key findings in ... cell therapies. The ASH Annual Meeting will be held ... Novartis Oncology . "We will be presenting ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: