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It is adaptive to be able to intentionally forget neutral events such as wrong directions, a friends outdated phone number or a switched meeting time.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:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants ... grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Dr. Amanda Cheng, an orthodontist ... has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, including robotic Suresmile technology, ... , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic treatment. It can be used ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Topical BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain ... for a minimum wage raise to $12 an hour by 2020 and then adjusting it ... the lost value of the minimum wage, assure the wage floor does not erode again, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... at the Clinical Decision Making in Emergency Medicine conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, ... journal articles published in Emergency Medicine Practice and Pediatric Emergency Medicine ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Puradigm® ... Group (TGIG), has initiated cultivation and processing operations at its production facility, and ... Nevada. , Puradigm is the manufacturer of a complete system of proactive air ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) ... Elecsys BRAHMS PCT (procalcitonin) assay as a dedicated testing ... With this clearance, Roche is the first IVD company ... for sepsis risk assessment and management. PCT ... PCT levels in blood can aid clinicians in assessing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... 52" report to their offering. ... creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. The ... that will serve to drive considerable growth for effective anti-influenza ... to cap sales considerably, but development is still in its ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... INDIANAPOLIS , June 23, 2016 ... Tomorrow,s Leaders Scholarship is any indication, the future is ... online at www.diabetesscholars.org by the Diabetes Scholars ... in the way of academic and community service excellence. ... program since 2012, and continues to advocate for people ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: