Intentionally forgetting bad memories possible; Here's how

You will be astonished to know, but yes, you can erase your bad memories intentionally. Scientists have finally uncovered that it is possible for the human mind to forget the past memories just by changing the way we think about the context of those memories. Many claim it as an important find as it can hugely help in coping up with the bad times and bad memories, educational purposes, cognitive diseases like post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.

People take help of all their senses including sight, sounds and smells along with situation we are in like where we are and who we are with to retrieve our memories from the deepest corners of the brain.

However, the study was focused on intentionally forgetting the bad past experience. For the study, researchers showed several images to the participants mostly outdoor scenes like forests, mountains and beaches. Along with the images, participants were also shown two different lists of random words and were asked to either forget or remember the random words presented to them interspersed between scene images.

“We used fMRI ( functional magnetic resonance imaging) to track how much people were thinking of scene-related things at each moment during our experiment. That allowed us to track, on a moment-by-moment basis, how those scene or context representations faded in and out of people’s thoughts over time,” said study lead author Jeremy Manning, assistant professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, US.

“It’s like intentionally pushing thoughts of your grandmother’s cooking out of your mind if you don’t want to think about your grandmother at that moment,” Manning said.”We were able to physically measure and quantify that process using brain data,” Manning noted.

“We were able to physically measure and quantify that process using brain data,” Manning noted.

However, flushing of scene-related thoughts did not occur when the study authors asked volunteers to remember the studied list instead of forgetting it.

Moreover, it was found that more number of flushed out scene -related thoughts meant lesser number of studied words a participant would remember later which further suggest that the intentionally forgetting bad memories are possible.

The study was published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.


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