Consciousness Club #32: Why Emotional Memories Tend to Stick and How We Can Forget Them
Speaker: Dr. Linda de Voogd (New York University)
Abstract: We prefer to forget stressful events, but we tend to do the opposite. We remember stressful events a lot better than mundane events. How does the brain form and store such memories? The brain replays events in the period after a stressful encounter, something you could compare with replaying a movie. Is it also possible to intervene with this process? This would make it, for example, possible to treat traumatic memories. Pharmacological manipulations have shown to be able to interfere with memory storage. However, it might also be possible to intervene with the storage of such memories by shifting your attention for example by playing a game of Tetris or making simple eye movements. When you do this, areas of the brain that are involved in storing stressful memories are suppressed, making it therefore possible to alter these memories.
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