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

t 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.


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

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